Wires & Wooden Boxes
Ernesto Diaz-Infante: acoustic steelstring guitar, piano, small percussion. Chris Forsyth: electric guitar, soundboard extracted from an old upright piano, toy piano, small percussion. All compositions by Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Chris Forsyth. Recorded by Ross Bonadonna at Wombat Recording CO., Brooklyn, NY. The approach we've taken with this new release is different from our previous (first) recorded collaboration, 'Left & Right.' 'Left & Right' was conceived as a series of long-distance duets, with Ernesto laying down guitar tracks in California and Chris adding his own tracks at a later date back home in Brooklyn. 'Wires and Wooden Boxes,' on the other hand, was recorded in real time, in one studio, together. However, we wanted to create something more than a record of two people improvising on guitars and piano. First, we expanded the instrumentation to include not only guitars and piano, but also small percussion and some items that we found at the studio-notably, a soundboard extracted from an old upright piano, a toy piano, and various additional percussion instruments. Then, we applied strategic approaches to our improvisations, which were discussed prior to recording each piece. For "NYC Journal excerpt (2000) piano guitar," Ernesto uses pitch and harmonic structures as springboards for spacious and delicate improvisation, while Chris limits himself to the grounding hum and static created by touching the power cord to the input jack of his electric guitar. The piece is derived from a series of daily location-based journal pieces for solo piano, that combine haiku influenced notated music, spontaneous ink drawings, and words. "Sound is Good All the Time" is a piece for piano soundboard and acoustic guitar in which the instruments are rubbed and scratched and tweaked, making music with an emphasis on sound rather the fixed pitches of the scale. The guitar duets are possibly the most spontaneous. We'd say, let's concentrate on the electric tones, let's play the guitar like a drum, let's avoid notes, or let's try this open tuning. And then we'd just play. Ernesto generally uses alligator clips, extreme alternate tunings, screwdrivers, bells, and other objects to elicit a wide range of timbres from his acoustic guitar, often concentrating on the percussive and frictional end of the sound spectrum. Chris produces his sounds using more common equipment: electric guitar, amplifier, volume pedal, and distortion box. These pieces are designed to be performed repeatedly and to sound different at each performance. That's the fun (and challenge) of it: to work within a framework, but to make it somehow new every time. It's a goal that is common in jazz, blues, and folk musics, as well. As any musician who's ever improvised extensively (for anyone who's followed improve music) knows, the "free approach can yield vocabularies and styles which become rigid and repetitive over time. Our approach to "Wires and Wooden Boxes" is an attempt to find some new spaces in our collaboration by incorporating a level of pre-meditated composition into the process of improvisation. -EDI/CF, April, 2001.