REVIEW: Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Chris Forsyth: March
Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Chris Forsyth: March [Evolving Ear/Pax Recordings, 2002] (mp3)
Three words? an 'experimental' bookend
This just in! Evolving Ear and Pax Recordings are pioneering NEW DIRECTIONS IN SOUND! That's right, folks, come along with the good people at EE & PR on a voyage into heretofore undreamt of sonic realms! Thrill to spine-tingling aural transmissions from beyond the spectral gates of the aether, the likes of which ye have never seen! It's the beginning of a new age!
Seriously, though, this album, for the most part, is experimentalism at its worst - dull, uninspired, and terribly pretentious. For just over an hour, Diaz-Infante and Forsyth presume to fill your ears with some of the drabbest sounds you're likely to ever come across. If there were such a thing as Experimental Music City, March would be the town drunk, wandering aimlessly around, rambling incoherently, and eventually passing out behind a dumpster. I'm sure that any label pundit put to task about this album would defend it on the grounds that these two fellows are working within the context of their own free musical vocabulary. Maybe so, but as March proves, the boys in the band have skipped one to many of their remedial classes.
The album opens with the sound of a patch cable plug being arrhythmically tapped, creating a buzzing, monotonous click. I'm pretty sure that every electric guitarist, ever, has done this out of sheer boredom at one point or another, and I have seen it incorporated into pieces in an interesting fashion. On its own, however, the sound quickly becomes monotonous; there's no dynamic, nothing but random clicking, and the piece ends up sounding like a demonstration track that you might find on the "Sick Practice Riffs" CD that comes included with each and every copy of Guitar World's "So You Want To Play At The Knitting Factory" issue. Same goes for the second track, but replace plug tapping with pick scraping. Jesus, folks, the next time you plan on experimenting musically, try to do something innovative. I'm not sure, but the last time I checked, the goal of most experimentation was advancement of the medium in new directions. Pick scrapes and plug taps are all well and good, but they aren't innovative, and their presentation here isn't aesthetically pleasing enough to warrant the focus given to them.
Things really go over the top in the ridiculousness department with the third track, however, when Diaz-Infante pulls out the vocal guns. Over a spare backdrop (lightly tapped cymbals, feedback drones, and the occasional snare hit), his quavering voice meanders through a string of gibberish: "Now / nevermind / cloudy," he mumbles, before trailing off into unintelligible moaning. Under most circumstances, I'm the last person to take issue with nonsensical verbalization, but here, the quailing, monotonous delivery coupled with the comic pretension of the music just makes me want to throw the disc away.
The rest of the album continues in a similar vein. Plug tapping and pick scraping are both fixtures throughout, and a few other sounds appear: paper being crumbled, what sounds to be the lid being taken off a glass bottle, someone plucking the strings of his guitar above the nut, a coin being spun and dropped. Diaz-Infante's vocals reappear now and then; sometimes, he merely pants and grunts, while on other pieces he returns to the third track's grating moans. Pianos occasionally wander into the frame, stumble through awkward and formless figures, and exit. The few moments at which the disc seems capable of revealing something interesting, such as the alternating silence and noise of the fifth track or the incongruous acoustic strumming of track twelve, quickly degenerate into dull, repetitious, and unrewarding fits of self-indulgence. Perhaps I'm going about this review all wrong - perhaps March is simply intended to be placed in a prominent position in one's home, thereby bolstering the avant-garde credibility of it's owner. I'm sure it makes a nice bookend. However, I can't for the life of me fathom anyone listening to this tepid piece of faux-experimentalism for pleasure.