If you haven't heard the name 'Ernesto Diaz-Infante', it's probably because he treads stranger hallways than most, but the gent's well enough known to the more esoterically inclined among us, having performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon; Conciertos Chicanos; Palais Ideal: A Festival of Adventurous, Strange, and Visionary Music; the It's Too Damn Early radio program; and God only knows how many other offbeat rarified aesthetic venues. The California EAR Unit has recorded his work, and Ernesto's been awarded residencies in France and elsewhere. The guy's issued at least 15 CDs previous to this one, runs Pax Records, and is one of those restless souls who explores the peripheries of sound in a number of ways. If you read into that that this might be a bit difficult music, you're right…and you're wrong.
Civilian Life is a potpourri of variable circumstances and modes. Much of it is lo-fi (Diaz-Infante favors a 4-track Tascam portastudio) but some is cystalline, such as the "suite" that starts with the entrancingly minimal Easy to Disappear into this Fog. That cut is kindred to what musos like Alain Kremski and Wolff & Hennings used to emit, monastically inclined meditational slo-songs based in Buddhistic resonances oft employing bells, gongs, and other instruments. Yerba Buena follows and is a vaguely Eno-esque On Land-ish cut glancing over to those treasured soundcapes with Fripp while sporting a bit of Rodelius as a toss-in. Those two tracks take up almost half the album and are hypno-drone musics, though the latter rearranges its affairs and gets Popul Vuh-esque by way of Hari Deuter, droney themselves but in a different way.
If you're not familiar with most of those names - well, I warned ya, but to progressive music ears, they're hallowed, so if you want to throw in references to Cluster, very early Kraftwerk, and others, I won't complain, though you'd need to insert the names of Hans Fjellestad, Donkey, and the groups and individuals surrounding them and the Accretions label for a more definitive adjunct. Much of this is not music as most will recognize it, but for those of us with twisted brains, abstracted emotions, and imploded aesthetics, it's soma from another planet. True, one or two short cuts fall flat for me, but the rest of the CD is seductive, and, yo, Ernesto, JT is drop dead killer! Ya need to expand it out to 25 minutes!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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