Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Artist Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Title The Lovers Escape (Los Amantes Escapan)
Label Kendra Steiner Editions - KSE #387 -
Released On 2/10/2018
Purchase Purchase Here

released January 1, 2018

Ernesto Diaz-Infante, nylon-string guitar

recorded at Next Door To The Jefferson Airplane Studios, San Francisco CA, July 2016
composed, performed and recorded by Ernesto Diaz-Infante

About a year ago, when I requested some ideas for a new 2018 album from Ernesto Diaz-Infante, he told me that he’d been working extensively with a nylon-string classical guitar in recent months and that he was working on two very different projects involving that instrument—-he’d send me both when they were finished, and I could see if I wanted one of them for release. When I heard the two albums, I desired to get BOTH of them for KSE release, and Ernesto graciously agreed. I told him that one would be the first release of 2017 and the other would be the final release of 2017. That first one was “Manitas” (KSE #372, still available)…the second one is now available, the final entry in our Winter 2017/2018 round of releases: “The Lovers Escape/Los Amantes Escapan” (KSE #387).

On my property, I have three sets of wind chimes (two made from different densities of scrap metal by my late father, one made from tempered glass)–one on my front porch, one at the corner of the right rear of the house near our bedroom, and one about fifteen feet behind the house on the branch of a tree. When we have varying winds in the Fall and the windows are open, I hear an achingly beautiful and endlessly differing series of chiming tones—-a limited number of chimes, of course, but a seemingly infinite combination of possibilities. I can listen to that for hours. Remember the environmental sounds in the first few minutes of Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST? Have you ever read one of the multiple-page minimalist texts of Gertrude Stein with the incremental repetition where slight differences seem so significant and dramatic—-have you ever taken the time to read one of those aloud?

Think along those lines when encountering Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s new album. It’s 72 minutes of solo nylon-string classical guitar, three long pieces, each coming from a different picking/strumming pattern which is varied ever so slightly. Not in a predictable “minimalist” way, but in an unpredictable but subtle way, like a caress. The radical element in this album is that it’s played entirely on open strings! Yes…that’s why I gave the analogy of the wind chimes. On paper, it’s a very limited number of pitches–in reality, and in the hands of a virtuoso player such as Ernesto Diaz-Infante, there’s an infinite variety in touch, tone, attack, decay etc. Don’t forget the rich overtones of the nylon-string guitar, which is why Ernesto chose this particular approach with this particular instrument. It would have been FAR different if done on a steel-string guitar. He has always been a master of bringing out the sound possibilities inherent in the instrument, whether it be bajo sexto or whatever kind of guitar.

The album was reviewed recently at Vital Weekly in the Netherlands, along with our other two most recent KSE releases by Xterip and More Eaze…’s that review:

And from More Eaze via Xterip to Ernesto Diaz-Infante is quite a trip but it also shows the wide scope of Kendra Steiner’s interests when it comes to weird music. Not that I believe this music to be weird at all, far from it. Diaz-Infante set up microphones at ‘Next Door To The Jefferson Airplane Studios’ in San Francisco and played his nylon string guitar for seventy-four minutes; or at least that’s the amount of music that is released here, in three lengthy pieces. Diaz-Infante is an improviser for whom the guitar must sound like a guitar, and not like an object that just happens to be shaped in the form of a guitar and that is a box that resonates. In three pieces here he displays a love for minimal
strumming and does that in a most beautiful way. If you need a quiet place following the Xterip release, then this could not be more welcome. The playing is throughout each piece more or less the same, going on and on, like the simple strum of ‘Off Into The Wilderness Where We Walk With No Gravity’ or the paused playing of ‘Watching Your Eyes Awake’. The listener loses sense of time and place, at least I did having this on repeat for a very long time, lost in reading a book on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There is nothing plink-plonk about this, just some most lovely minimalist nylon guitar playing.

This album is not for everyone–as with the Jandek 9-cd solo piano box set or that MEV piece played on rubber bands, some people will be outraged by an album consisting of 70+ minutes of guitar music played unfretted on open strings—-but those who put aside such barriers (as the folks at Vital Weekly did) will find that using a limited palette forces the artist to concentrate on more subtle distinctions (think of the analogous experiences described in the second paragraph above).

“The Lovers Escape/Los Amantes Escapan” (KSE #387) is the perfect complement to Ernesto’s earlier album MANITAS (KSE #372)–be sure to get both. We’re proud to have been providing Ernesto Diaz-Infante with a platform for his fascinating and hauntingly beautiful explorations of the possibilities of the guitar and related instruments (bajo sexto, etc.) for a number of years now, and it was exciting to bring him to Central Texas (from the SF Bay Area) in 2012 for the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert in Austin. Every one of his albums is a methodical investigation into down the lesser-traveled alleys of the possibilities of his instrument. Join him on this latest excursion….let go and float along….