The appraisal of a solitary effort on an unconventionally stimulated electric guitar responds to certain necessities. When – as in this case – the reviewer is also a guitarist, the risk is falling into the “recognize-the-technique” loop rather than highlighting and ultimately relishing the relevant hues. However, Sandy Ewen does her best to assist the miserable reporter in the avoidance of clichés. Tributaries – a reissue of material dated 2013 – is a set of studies in the resonating properties of the instrument as played through an array of objects that you might or might not have already seen in the hands of selected luminaries of horizontal tampering. Still, Ewen seems more focused on the aspects concerning a selfless pragmatic reverberation, as opposed to showing at all costs that a brush or a file are being employed to concoct unusual abstractions.
That this music was originally the acoustic appendage to an art print doesn’t come as a surprise, as one tends to interact with it via amorphous states of mind and sudden flashes of consciousness. Think to the semi-hypnotized state often reached during the profound observation of a mysterious picture, followed by the understanding of a cardinal detail. Likewise, the alternance of substantial jangling, pliable drones and glimmering partials – in union with the obvious contribution of the guitar body’s ringing spirit – diversifies the (involuntary) terminology until a complete detachment from the source occurs. In those moments, a possibility exists that player and listener truly become a single entity inside a pool of joint vibrancy not polluted by inferior spirituality. Sometimes, that can be enough for a robust, if virtual pat on the back of the performer.