Though highly regarded guitarists Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Chris Forsythe are renowned amongst experimental jazz players and aficionados, their latest record can and does often sound like a bunch of guys trying to quietly break out of prison with a half-dozen instruments tied to their backs. Oh yeah, and some of the instruments are still plugged into amps.
Indeed, March, the duo's third album together, is a precarious sound experience, a tense balancing act of ambient instrumental noise (including electronic hum from electric guitar pickups, feedback, and puzzling clicking), sparsely mumbled voice and rare guitar picking. The whole 65-minute exploration, particularly "Part 11", comes across like an extended version of the beginning and interstitial portions of Pink Floyd's odd "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast," a song from 1970's Atom Heart Mother.
Even so, Diaz-Infante (also an accomplished pianist) and Forsythe likely have loftier intentions than emulating Floyd. Diaz-Infante is heralded as among the top avant-garde composers and improvisers on the West Coast, and Forsyth has played with other notable guitar-and-noise doodlers including Loren MazzaCane Connors. Both Diaz-Infante and Forsyth curate nights of improvised music in their respective hometowns of San Francisco and New York City. Diaz-Infante is wildly prolific, having released 17 albums over the last five years.
There is a bit of disturbing drilling (or what sounds like drilling) in "Part Five", but for the most part March's clinking Jenga stack of jitteriness is pleasantly riveting, despite the fact that for the overwhelming majority of the piece, the instruments are not played in any traditional sense. And sections of silence abound, particularly toward the album's end. Still, the rare piano figure or slicing brushed cymbal takes on new urgency when thrust among spatters of silence and babbling undercurrents of organically grown white noise.
That Diaz-Infante and Forsyth are able to wring such un-musical music from their instruments may be the real charm here. Disconnect the part of your brain that houses the expectations programmed by commercial TV and radio and, just once, really listen.