621

The Making of Darcy James Argue's "Infernal Machines"

Eric Benson By
Published:
Views: 16,883
On "Redeye," the album's fourth track, Argue electronically loops an acoustic guitar line that repeats constantly as the music builds and shifts. "Some of the notes in the loop fit the chords," Argue says, "and some of them grind against them, but because it's been going on for the whole tune, there's a sense that the ear doesn't really notice it. It's a way of subtlety leading up to these pretty dissonant things that don't sound dissonant because you've kind of like massaged your way in and out of them." Argue may use pop techniques, but it doesn't make his music sound "poppy"—at least not in the pejorative sense. On "Redeye," the acoustic guitar loop makes the music richer, denser, more unexpected.

Argue's music balances complexity with accessibility. He crafts through-composed epics that build elaborate narratives over twelve minutes, and then talks about wanting his music "to feel good." His fluency in jazz, classical, and popular music has given him an intimidatingly vast harmonic and melodic vocabulary, but he says it's "all gravy on top of having a strong rhythmic foundation." As quirky and intellectual as Argue can be—the track titles on Infernal Machines are based on the CIA torture of the Canadian engineer Maher Arar ("Habeas Corpus"), Zeno's dichotomy paradox ("Zeno"), and the Fung Wah Chinatown Bus ("Transit")—he sees theory as far less important than groove. The music on Infernal Machines has such a jolting, visceral energy because it manages to sound at once joyously familiar and unsettlingly alien. Those common studio effects feel ever-so-slightly twisted; the music blasts along, but in odd meters; the dissonance builds gradually, without the jagged edges of Thelonious Monk or Cecil Taylor. The seductiveness of Argue's music is the seductiveness of the uncanny: the recognizable-yet-strange, the interplanetary dirigible, the coal-powered robot, the big band playing the music of an imagined future.

Photo Credits

Lindsay Beyerstein

Related Video

Shop For Jazz

  • Zeno
    Zeno
    Darcy James Argue
    Infernal Machines
CD/LP/Track Review
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Megaphone
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Brooklyn Babylon
Brooklyn Babylon
New Amsterdam Records
2014
buy
Brooklyn Babylon
Brooklyn Babylon
New Amsterdam Records
2013
buy
Infernal Machines
Infernal Machines
New Amsterdam Records
2010
buy
Infernal Machines
Infernal Machines
New Amsterdam Records
2009
buy
Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong
trumpet
Roy Hargrove Roy Hargrove
trumpet
Count Basie Count Basie
piano
Maria Schneider Maria Schneider
band/orchestra
Carla Bley Carla Bley
piano
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
piano
Stan Kenton Stan Kenton
piano

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google banner ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Fund All About Jazz's Future