Waves Upon Waves: Ernesto Diaz-Infante

Ernesto Diaz-InfanteWistful Entrance, Wistful Exit (Kendra Stein Editions, 2014)

Ernesto Diaz-Infante: Wistful Entrance, Wistful ExitErnesto Diaz-Infante has played electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and a swath of other stringed instruments (including piano) in a variety of settings from prickly to the sublime. This album features one guitar with lots of reverb, playing calm, repetitive figures. But unlike a computerized piece, or the high-precision mirrors-on-mirrors of classical minimalism, the variations come not only from calculated changes but from the human variations of hands on strings.

The effect is a hypnotic shimmer — simple, graceful image left to drift and slowly change. The ocean metaphor suggested by the album cover is apt.

The titles of the three 15-minute tracks on Wistful Entrance, Wistful Exit form the phrase “this long moment,” which is an apt way to describe ambient music: a place where the instant is stretched, where you can step aside and be a bystander to the passing flow of time. “This” and “Long” are similiar in character, with the sound of a plectrum gently dragged across the strings, describing a meditative, ringing chord followed by two more sympathetic notes. One section of “Long” reduces to just a chord, which further strips down to just two notes for a while, basking us in the simplest essence of harmony.

“Moment” uses straight strumming to form a pulse along with a one-note bass drone (probably just the low “E” string on the guitar). It’s a tougher, cavernous sound that keeps up a faster pace while sticking to that droning aesthetic. The track starts slow, continuing that meditative theme, but shifts into a slow gallop by the end.

Stretched across 15 minutes, the effect is subtle. If you’ve got this on as background noise, you might be surprised at how differently you’re engaging with the music by the end of “Moment.”