Occupying an always interesting space on the accessible/avant-garde axis, California based guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante never fails to serve up something different, be it a solo effort or collaboration. Sol Et Terra pairs his 12 string acoustic guitar with veteran ST 37 drummer Lisa Cameron on percussion, electronics and lap steel. The eight tracks, most very different from one another, were recorded at Ernesto’s home studio in the Bay Area. The music has a live feel but the sounds from each player are very precise.
Rise consists of repetitive strumming and freeform bang-a-can percussion that creates a part hypnotic and part easy paced grooving effect. Queen of Pentacles combines a similar strumming pattern with minimal electronic drone waves. And Labor and Fruits continues the 12 string strumming theme, this time with a variety of chiming bells.
The House at Pooneil Corners goes down a much more schizophrenic path, combining dreamily lulling guitar strumming, which creates a strangely droning effect, with harsh Noise-Psych guitar, which I’m guessing Lisa is producing on the lap steel. I really like the sensation that is simultaneously confusing and intriguing created by these strikingly different sounds that seem to pair up so well. Sun Psychic showcases another cool and strangely different synthesis, blending a tinkling Oriental style with a Folk Americana feel. The multi-layered Stars Within Stars sets a frantic and rhythmically linear yet oddly off-kilter pace. The first half of this 10 minute piece feels like a chase scene, before easing into a slowly strumming and picking noisy yet emotional Psychedelic dissonance. Imagination Eye also creates a soundtrack feel, like an ominous march or countdown to something evil. The guitar strums are singularly slow and repetitive, yet portend something to be feared, while the percussion and haunting atmospherics work to enhance that feeling. Lots happening on both this and Stars Within Stars, which together are my favorite tracks of the set. Finally, The Daughter is like an avant-garde surrealism exploration, as the duo experiment with trippy dissonance and a succession of single note manipulations and noise/drone/soundscape bits, scrapes and blasts.
Lots of very interesting variety here. The performances are subtle yet there’s far more going on that requires multiple listens to absorb.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz