Pure (i.e., untampered) field recordings are the worst documents to rate. Sound quality aside, there are no criteria on which to base a serious evaluation, since their relevance and interest become entirely subjective. So let's say upfront that the sound quality of this album is excellent -- very crisp and detailed. San Francisco-based artist Ernesto Diaz-Infante is mostly known as a piano and guitar improviser. The first years of the 21st century saw him wildly increase his release schedule and diversify his activities. This field recording is only one of many unusual items in his discography. Eponymous, it consists of a one-sided 90-minute cassette packaged in an unmarked piece of road map -- no credits or details whatsoever. It belongs to a series of 50 such tapes by as many artists released in 2001 by the U.K. micro-label oTo. Limited to 50 copies, it is obviously one of Diaz-Infante's rarest artifacts. The tape contains a 45-minute recording of window installers at work somewhere in San Francisco. Is it a single recording made with two microphones, or did the artist combine two separate takes in the left and right stereo channels (maybe documented from different standpoints)? The sounds (all construction-related, plus traffic noise and such) are completely panned left and right -- there is no middle. When listened to in headphones it feels like watching a split-screen movie (you have the right to think of the Woodstock document; it is the commonly known example). Playback on loudspeakers hides this feature, but fills the room with an ambience similar to your neighbor's latest run of home improvement. Judge for yourself if you'd like it or not.
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