Diab: No Perfect Wave (Injazero)
Diab is a Canadian guitarist whose debut album is a sheer stunner.
The instrumental music that comprises No Perfect Wave largely focuses
on affected bowing, with additional plucking and effects. It
might be tempting to throw in a comparison to Arthur Russell given
the music’s likeness to Russell’s axe of choice, but I find these prolonged, gloomy
compositions to have more in common with the oblique sprawls of reed
player Colin Stetson (whose New History Warfare albums are highly
recommended in their own right) or Icelandic cellist Hildur
Gu∂nadóttir. “Pale Ink” could be a fairly languid circular
strings piece, but its gradual amping up of distortion lends it a
gritty and grimy quality that captures some of the viscera of Ben
Frost without the machismo. In contrast, shorter pieces like “Silent,
Still” writhe and squirm their way through timbral manipulations
like a living organism.
While the front half of the album emphasizes
bowing above all else, Diab returns to his guitar more traditionally for portions of
the latter half. “Lying in the Back of the Car on Highway One”
conjures up images of Diab actually plugged in and tinkering while
taking in the sounds, sights, and smells of the west coast highway.
But perhaps No Perfect Wave flourishes most when its pieces have room
to expand. “Three Pyramids” is a gorgeous spread of drones,
carried by a soaring, reverberated, lonely trumpet, capturing some of
the majesty of Stars of the Lid or Hammock at their biggest. While I
applaud his effort to keep No Perfect Wave more concise, its finest
moments to me are in its longest tracks, approaching or exceeding six
minutes, where the gestures and timbres are able to flow into one
another and evolve and shift shape more subtly. “Novus Memoria”
concludes the album in style, with slow bowing captured,
delayed, and distorted like a recent memory fading out of clarity. I
find Diab’s swaths of sound irresistible, from its heroic opening
phrases to the cyclical, bending refrain of the closing track.
Introspective and stark, most highly recommended.
Buy it: Bandcamp