Alford Thompson duo

Improvised Contemporary Chamber Music


The New Orleans based Alford Thompson Duo features longtime collaborators Will Thompson (WATIV) on his acoustic augmented piano invention, the Infastain Piano, and Chris Alford on resonator guitar.  The intimate ambience and combination of these two acoustic instruments give the listener the feel that this is parlour music from a different reality or dimension. One might hear shades of contemporary classical, ethnic folk, electronic music, free jazz, noise, and blues but as whole, this duo eskews genre and presents the music as instant composition. This new music, rather than focus on specific harmonies, sense of time or pre-established forms, deals with broader aspects such as density, juxtaposition of approaches, personal sonic syntaxes, complementary resonances, balance and adaptability. 

The piano sounds on this recording are an acoustic augmentation designed by Will Thompson called the Infastain Piano that allows for extended sustain of one or many notes. Using a tactile shaker attached to the piano’s soundboard and a contact microphone, the acoustic piano’s soundboard becomes a speaker from which it’s own sounds are manipulated through digital processing. The result is a natural sounding piano sustain that lasts for an unnatural period of time. Through digital manipulations of those prolonged sonic events, acoustically impossible sonorities are realized. 

The preparations and augmentations are not just artifice, rather, an expansion of possibilities through imagining new ways that these instruments can resonate. 

For Alford, one particular point of satisfaction was how the Infastain Piano resonated in the room and space. The sounds don't just come directionally through a cold speaker like most electronic based instruments. Rather, the Infastain activates the wooden chamber of the piano and it’s strings providing a much more complex scope of vibration and overtones. There was also the interaction of those same sounds oscillating through holes of the resonator guitar which already has it’s own reverberating metal chamber. This  interchanging of resonance- back and forth- is just one magical aspect of the duo. 

The true strength of this pair is the intuitive interactions between Alford and Thompson as they improvise and invent a musical platform for their instruments and evoke emotional resonance, sonic images and new structural forms. They do this with a heightened state of creativity, loads of confidence and extreme sensitivity. In this collaboration, they discover a new kind of interactive material together, in real time, that could only exist with these specific artists, in this specific time and space.

William Thompson (WATIV)

Chris Alford