Ernesto Diaz-Infante — My Benign Sword (Eh?, 2016)
My Benign Sword is a solo acoustic album where guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante madly fiddles — not literally, but in the sense of wringing different types of scribbly, babbling sounds from the instrument.
It has some of the drone/ambiant elements that populate a lot of his other solo work, such as Wistful Entrance, Wistful Exit and this year’s Tunnels, an album of peace inspired by the horrors of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. But Diaz-Infante is no stranger to more prickly kinds of experimentation.
“My Forgotten Stars” opens the album in a Derek Bailey dialect, but one that emphasizes notes and tones. The clicks of tightly held strings and a bit of knocking on the guitar body serve as adjuncts to a spattering of tiny notes and small glissandos.
Most of the album is noisier than that, though.
On “Yin” and “The Inside Answers,” it sounds like Diaz-Infante is bouncing a hand up and down the strings, a springy, twangy effect that settles into a groove-based folk ambiance. His approach is harder to decode on “Where Are You? Hope You’re OK,” where the strings rattle continuously like a tuneful roulette wheel — that’s my favorite effect on the album.
I had a bit of trouble with “Moving Away From My Mind,” which is nice and contemplative but is based on that all-too-familiar sound of a guitar’s open strings. (If you don’t play guitar, the track is probably refreshing.)
“Fear of Love” was more my speed, with its gentle sawing sounds and avant-twang tones. It’s a very quiet track, possibly easy to miss if you’re not listening closely, but it’s full of ideas.
You can sample two of the louder tracks on the Eh?/Public Eyesore website.