There could not have been a better venue in town for Ry X, the ethereally voiced and atmospherically attuned performer whose lavishly synth-heavy works graced the Sanctuary at the Unitarian Society with S.B.’s very own Sierra Reeves as opener. A fundraiser for the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbra, the show was the first collaboration by Red Eye Presents and The Jane Group and a perfect encapsulation of the power of the Sanctuary as a show space.
Reeves was a strong presence, with stark guitar rumbling gently beneath her hauntingly sparse songs. A set of mostly new material, her set was an autumnal tone-setter, calmly cooling the room with her lovelorn lyrics as she beckoned us to join her in the murky depths of heartsickness.
Ry X delivered a mostly impressive set as beautifully blue-hued as the stained glass above. Songs like the piano-laden “Shortline” and the hypnotic “Howling” were stirring and enveloping, pained and rapturous. Admittedly, Ry X is not the greatest of synth improvisers, and his seemingly out-of-sync stabs at the keys distracted more than they did add ambient abstraction, which supposedly may have been the goal; they seemed out of place. But backlit by a light set evoking sunbeams breaking through clouds, it will be remembered as one of the year’s most enthrallingly atmospheric and intimate nights.