INTERVIEW. Chet Doxas and Micah Frank
Chet Doxas (woodwinds) and Micah Frank (electronics) have been playing and recording together since 2018. The chemistry between the two is evident on the 2019's collaborative EP All the Roads blurring the lines between textural and melodic, organic and "artificial". On the duo's upcoming album The Music of Hildegard von Bingen Part One, they "bring their open-ended approach" to four pieces by Hildegard von Bingen, a XXII century German nun, teacher, musician and mystic.

The improvised soundscapes on the album are both sonically brave and mindful of von Bingen's legacy. The album's highlight is the delicate and slowly evolving Ave Maria. The composition features a masterful harp performance by Mary Lattimore.

— How did the idea for the album come about?
Chet: The idea to explore early music was born out of the sound that Micah and I started to gravitate towards naturally during our Improvised sessions. Since I play a single note instrument and Micah plays drones and variations there of, we began to notice that some of the musical places we got to resembled plainchant music. We decided to start studying and gathering examples of early music that we both enjoyed. We chose Hildegard von Bingen as our area of focus and are very grateful to be able to explore this amazing trove of work written by one of the most important thinkers in the modern world.
— What is Aver Maria's place in the context of the album?
Micah: Ave Maria is definitely a staple of our live set and encompasses a lot of the aesthetics we've gone after for the album. Unlike some of the other, darker and more somber of von Bingen's compositions, Ave Maria has a folksy and uplifting theme.
— What was your initial vision for Ave Maria?
Micah: We set out to arrange the piece keeping in mind an instrumental voice like Mary Lattimore's. Similar to much of our work it came together through a process of live jamming, layering and sound design that culminated into a textural narrative.

Chet: At the top of the sheet music I wrote the words "natural world". Micah and I used these words to guide us and build an organic space in which Mary could feel free to express herself.
— How did you work on the sound of the track?
Micah: We iterated over von Bingen's original monophonic manuscript and put everything to tape. Once we had a few versions we began the editing process and sound design layering. We also recorded numerous woodwind overdubs that either turned into tape loops or full harmonized sections.

Chet: Micah and I embrace the idea that tape loops are constantly deteriorating as we're using them. Like leaves that are drying out on a forest floor, the inherent organic nature of this commonality plays a big role in a lot of our pieces. In an age of so much digitization, being able to work with something that is disappearing bit by bit with each passing second in the studio helps keep us in touch with working as present-minded as possible.