Tip! Orb Tapes presents “All The Duos,” a brand new collection of collaborative pieces featuring Maria Chavez and Sandy Ewen. A colossal effort, this double CD release contains over 90 minutes of music and showcases the improvisational prowess of both artists. Taking their instruments past the point of recognizability, each has a knack for coaxing unpredictable yet beautiful sounds from her equipment – turntables and guitars treated in utterly novel ways.
Now based in Brooklyn, Chavez and Ewen have been improvising together since 2001, when they were just 21 and 17 years old respectively. Playing together for so long, since nearly the start of each artist’s musical career, has built an impenetrable sonic bond. Chavez sums up perfectly how the years of collaboration have affected their output, saying, “That’s why there is depth, that’s why listening is central.” The nuanced interplay on these recordings certainly demands close listening. The artists’ shared musical history comes through as improvisation elevated by a mutual intuition.
The recordings on “All The Duos” exhibit a certain incorporated sonic tension. Ewen and Chavez play off of one another like two sides of a brain. Chavez’s musical approach involves the deconstructing and reimagining of her turntables as instruments, leaving behind their common use as mere media players. Ewen’s treatment of the guitar is not dissimilar, making conventional playing and even a large number of her prepared guitarist counterparts seem musically mild-mannered by comparison. The transition of textures and the swelling together of these disparate elements bring out a sense of cohesion across this collection of tracks that makes them seem less improvised than they truly are. Both artists bring unique, thought-provoking styles to their instruments, resulting in collaborations untethered to musical normalcy. Vinyl records, needles, strings and pickups pushed past conventional use, coalescing into a unified and innovative sound art.