Boomkat Product Review:
Turntablist and sound artist Maria Chávez turns in her first continuous full length audio work. “Plays” is a DJ mix CD that doesn't feature any tracks. It is a remix of a work whose original doesn't feature recorded sound. It is a minimalistic yet complex electroacoustic work, literally built from scratch, bootstrapping sound out of sheer silence: creatio ex nihilio.
"The story of this album starts with a record given to Chávez as a birthday present. It is Stefan Goldmann's 'Ghost Hemiola', a double vinyl set of empty locked grooves. The record contains no sound whatsoever other than the vinyl's own surface noise.
Chávez's work with records and turntables usually features a rich layer of recorded audio which is transformed, cut up and rearranged by a wide range of fearless physical manipulations. By contrast 'Ghost Hemiola' is a blank canvas, unveiling her craft in its purest form, unobstructed by any audio content other than the sounds of the medium itself.
Breaking up the medium is happening both ways here, literally as well as figuratively. Unlike with her live performances, for "Plays“ Chávez employs digital processes extensively, zooming into minute details of sound and the artefacts of both mediums, the tangible vinyl record and disembodied digital audio. Narrowing down shards of sound to extremely short frames creates metallic timbres, reverberating quasi- spaces and percussive layers. Slowing down the tempo until sound halts at one sample of its digital representation brings forth emergent frequencies, which Chávez then uses to play melodies – vaguely resembling her analog technique of playing melodies by skipping a stylus back and forth across a test tone record.
This thorough investigation of the unobstructed vinyl medium with digital means is distilled into a one hour composition on this album. By the way – Chávez and Goldmann share the same birthdate."