All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Profiles

622

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

Eric Benson By

Sign in to view read count
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

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

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
Real Enemies

Real Enemies

New Amsterdam Records
2016

buy
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

Related Articles

Read The Bach's Beach Vision Of Jazz Heaven Profiles
The Bach's Beach Vision Of Jazz Heaven
by Arthur R George
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Bobby Bradford: Musician, Educator, Survivor Profiles
Bobby Bradford: Musician, Educator, Survivor
by Daniel Graham
Published: June 6, 2018
Read Bob Dorough: 1923-2018 Profiles
Bob Dorough: 1923-2018
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2018
Read A Vintage Year For Jessica Felix And The Healdsburg Jazz Festival Profiles
A Vintage Year For Jessica Felix And The Healdsburg Jazz...
by Arthur R George
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Cecil Taylor: 1929-2018 Profiles
Cecil Taylor: 1929-2018
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 7, 2018
Read The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen Profiles
The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen
by Gloria Krolak
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Denys Baptiste: Making the Late Trane Accessible" Profiles Denys Baptiste: Making the Late Trane Accessible
by David Burke
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "The Bach's Beach Vision Of Jazz Heaven" Profiles The Bach's Beach Vision Of Jazz Heaven
by Arthur R George
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Savoy Records: From Newark To The World" Profiles Savoy Records: From Newark To The World
by Jordan Levy
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease" Profiles Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease
by Greg Thomas
Published: November 23, 2017