Diaz-Infante/Fernandes/Montoya/Romus

Reverberations From Spring Past
Pax PR 90281

Extrapolating California’s role as avatar of the new, two musicians from San Diego and two from San Francisco produce a nine-track improvisation with very little reference to the music’s initial nurturing in jazz.

Awash with squealing rumblings, wave form resonation plus triggered side band sequences, textures from Robert Montoya’s electronics and Marcos Fernandes’ phonographies predominate. Tinctures from Fernandes’ percussion don’t really add up to a steady rhythm, while Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s acoustic steel-string guitar licks are wedded to lo-fi manipulation and folk-protest song accompaniment. Because of his instruments – soprano and alto saxophones – the Bay area’s Rent Romus seems the most jazz-like players. But his serrated reed manipulation actually resonates with strategies from the New Thing and BritImprov.

This, by the way, is a description, not a put down. Reverberations From Spring Past works remarkably well in communicating what the four musicians set out to do. After all, Yokomo, Japan-born Fernandes and Tijuana, Mexico native Montoya helped found San Diego’s Trummerflora Collective to investigate transference between electrical and acoustical forms. Here, ratcheting strokes on unidentified, metallic objects count as much as Romus’ reed-biting arpeggios and Diaz-Infante’s dense rasgueado frailing. Pre-recorded snippets of conversations, street noises and car movement – this is California after all – also stud the tracks.

Diaz-Infante’s single-string snaps or Montoya’s eddying electronic hisses oozing to the foreground more often than not characterize the performances. One of the most distinctive achieves a near perfect electro-acoustic balance. With Fernandes shaking and stroking maracas and a güiro while Diaz-Infante strums and splashes quick rhythms on top of a rippling signal processed surface, “Who Created the Cannon” includes a wavering tone seeping from Romus’ saxophone. Mix in a few squealed brake noises and crinkling hisses and you end up with an approximation of “Harlem Nocturne” played on a mechanical moon.

“An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04)” parts 1 and 2 presents an extended version of the strategy with bubbling electronic interface and sequenced squeaks. But except for the greater variety of triggered distortions that sound as if they’re being strained through a mix-master, electronics and some showcased saxophone spetrofluctuation, the 17½ minutes are merely an expanded version of what went before.

Most of the time the din should be accepted as musique concrete found sounds equal to the saxophone licks or drum beats. But perhaps there’s an additional subtext as well.

It’s suggested at the end of “Strife Over Ongoing Evil” when one street-side vendor clearly articulates the phrase “American Art”. Defiantly, the case is being made for this definition of the proceedings. In other words, the CD’s rustling patterns, animal growls and sequenced hisses, augmented by the altissimo multiphonics of Romus and the guitarist’s unvarying ostinato vamps are presented as being legit as any other music.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Premonition 2. My Objectivity, Your Subjectivity 3. Blues for Ezra 4. Elation Within the Collapse of Consensus 5. Who Created the Cannon 6. Strife Over Ongoing Evil 7. Rebuke and Revolt 8. An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04) Part 1 9. An Offering of Interconnectedness (Live at Spring Reverb 04) Part 2

Personnel: Rent Romus (soprano and alto saxophones, voice, toys); Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic steel-string guitar); Marcos Fernandes (percussion and phonographies); Robert Montoya (electronics)