THE little houses are gone, those cardboard miniatures of Edinburgh’s world of worship known as The Lamp of Sacrifice, adroitly rebuilt by Nathan Coley for the first instalment of NOW, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s survey of contemporary art practice. In their place, after a month’s breather, is a different type of meditation, sonic, visual and thoroughly compelling, with work by 2010 Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz at its heart.

There is a humanity to this iteration of the series that resonates in the airy spaces of the gallery. Philipsz is known for her audio works, many of which have involved her own singing voice, not least the Turner Prize winning work Lowlands, her own singing of three different versions of a Scots ballad, installed under three bridges over the Clyde.

But Philipsz’ voice is absent here in her five-room installation. It is an immersive experience, even in the throes of installation, when I walk around the exhibition with curator Julie-Anne Delaney, the gallery quiet and empty, the works largely hung but without any of the associated interpretive display.

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Delaney points out certain themes that echo around the rooms, from loss to material legacy, the idea of collecting and categorising culture, the idea of play, of storytelling. The sense of immersion is made immediate in the first room, a series of close-up photographic images of African dolls collected by a French ethnographer in the 1930s, recorded by the French artist Yto Barrada against the high-octane backdrop of her own brilliant blue printed wallpaper. It is a striking start.

Nearby, an echo in four portraits by Kate Davis of dolls made from found materials collected in the early 20th century and now in the Museum of Childhood. Davis’ work is displayed in museum glass boxes, curated, labelled, the dolls themselves shown alongside, yet not directly, the eye searching out the links.

Another room, and fellow New Zealander Sarah Rose’s meditation on material legacy is effected in friable polyurethane foam and hand-blown glass. Delaney tells me there is an audio work, too, which will sound out over this delicate yet provocative counterpoint of the natural and the synthetic.

Close by, Kenyan artist Michael Armitage shows four striking, large scale oils based stylistically on Gaugain or Goya, amongst others, with contemporary Kenyan life and dark events behind the subject matter. Dark events, too, in the background to Kurd-Iraqi artist Hiwa K’s superb two screen projection, The Bell Project (2007-15). Truly compelling, the films show workers in a scrap yard in Iraq melting down old military hardware into ingots, against those of a foundry in Italy, to which Hiwa K shipped these ingots to be turned into a bell. At the end of the film, the bell is rung, bringing with it all the connotations of joy, of transformation into something more enduring, yet of mourning and remembrance too. If you didn’t catch it at Hospitalfield, recently, don’t miss it here.

Walking into the exhibition, the evocative sound of Philipsz’ first installation becomes increasingly evident. Deep Water Pulse is an audio recording of an underwater locator beacon used on lost planes and ships, which, in a room empty of everything except an image of a broken ship, sounds out as lonely and empty as it might, consigned to the deep.

The image is from the series Elettra (2015), named after the ship bought by Marconi, the radio pioneer, and refitted as a mobile radio transmitting station. Used, much later, by the Nazis, bombed by the Allies, its hulk rusted in shallow water off the Dalmatian Coast until it was returned to Italy in 1962 and cut up into parts.

Five of Philipsz’ powerful yet quiet Elettra (2015) images are included here, a series of large scale black and white photographs, printed by hand, of the parts in their disparate locations around Italy. It is the submersive aspect of the process which appealed to Philipsz, Delaney tells me.

The following room is dominated by Philipsz’ 2016 work, Seven Tears, an installation of seven record players which each play a note from John Dowland’s Lacrimae (or Seaven Teares Figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans, 1604). It is haunting, poignant, moving, with an emotional resonance of loss, perhaps, that echoes in her 2017 salt pictures based on these pavannes, Lachrimae Antiquae. More immersion, here, in the salt bath process, the results ethereal, the crystals sparkling under the gallery lights.

The final point is Philipsz’ You are Not Alone (2009/2017), a series of radio interval signals recorded from around the world and replayed on vibraphone, radio transmitted from the top of Modern One over to Modern Two and relayed in the East Stairwell. It is a fitting open end to an exhibition of signals lost and found, a flinging-off into the ether.

NOW, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, www.nationalgalleries.org, 0131 624 6200, Until Feb 18, daily, 10am-5pm