Sandy Ewen guitar, objects, voice
Solo improvisation. It can be a strange concept.
So much of free improvisation is based on collaboration. Communicating through music; listening, complimenting & contrasting - it's a language typically spoken as a group.
Solo improvisation often isn't truly improvised. A lot of performers pre-plan and map out their solo sets. They know where they will begin, where they're going, and many of the stops along the way.
I used to play solo sets like that. Solo sets that I practiced ahead of time. The road map took away some of the anxiety of having to command the attention of a room.
I've been playing improvised music for 20 years now, and my anxiety around solo sets has basically disappeared. I no longer plan anything beyond what instrument I'm going to play, and what implements I'll have on hand. I enjoy playing through unfamiliar amplifiers in unfamiliar environments. This approach to solo performance allows me to complement the space, time, acoustics and mood of a moment more completely.
I can focus on what is RIGHT NOW.
I listen to how the sounds really sound in the environment. I'm not striving for an imaginary "correct" sound, I'm listening to the real sound. I've given up on imaginary sounds. Real sounds are shaped by environments and countless subtleties of technique. There is unlimited nuance which is easily forgotten if you're focused on an imagined perfection.
I recorded these two pieces alone on two separate evenings in Canada. There was no audience, no engineer. I was talking to myself and to an imagined future audience. Thanks for being that audience, I hope you enjoy listening.
Sandy Ewen August 2023
Sandy Ewen is a sound artist, visual artist and architect currently based in New York. Ewen’s audio practice focuses on extended guitar techniques, improvisation, graphic scores and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Her unique approach to guitar incorporates two amplifiers, a pan pedal and a wide array of implements – railroad spikes, sidewalk chalk, threaded bolts, steel wool and other items become an arsenal of abstraction. Ewen has worked extensively with film makers, dancers, poets and musicians to create films, audio recording, sound interventions and performance art.
released September 10, 2023
recorded 19 and 24 July 2023 by Sandy Ewen in Canada
mastered by Jim McEwan in Glasgow
cover photograph by Sandy Ewen