Ergo: If Not Inertia (2012)
A few decades ago, it wasn't evident that computers could become an integral component to music, other than some experimental persuasions set forth by the likes of eminent modern jazz trombonist George Lewis, who helped pioneer live electronics. But trombonist Brett Sroka carries the torch, yet in a different or, perhaps, more subtle light. With first-call avant-garde guitarist Mary Halvorson injecting her sinewy, odd-tuned phrasings, and acoustic guitarist Sebastian Kruger appearing on one track of If Not Inertia, the band's gradually ascending theme-building exercises often cast an ethereal panorama, cloaked with haunting dissimilarities or tempestuous free form dialogues.
The musicians seemingly navigate towards checkpoints, as a sense of adventure permeates these largely slow to mid-tempo pieces. Yet each track tenders a contrasting set of circumstances, glowingly evidenced on "Two for Joy," where Sroka's yearning notes resonate a simple a melody atop drummer Shawn Baltazar's briskly trickling cymbals parts, spurring a sense of urgency, and seeding a counter-maneuver-like approach. They spiral into an airy and bustling scenario, tinted with Sam Harris' minimalist piano voicings. In other spots, they delve into avant-garde territory, sprinkled with Sroka's electronics treatments that seldom overtake the core attributes of a given composition, but add bizarre nooks and crannies. Halvorson's wily guitar lines on "The Widening Gyre" provide a continuum of abstracts, meshed with keys and trombone dialogues, as the artists' swerving thematic developments morph into playful, multihued choruses.
Ergo's modus operandi is not easily categorized, which is a good thing. A mark of distinction pervades throughout these compositions, partly engineered with budding layers, climactic opuses, subtle tonalities and a horde of compelling contrasts via Sroka's unorthodox and probing compositional schematics. Hence, subsequent listens unearth newfound attributes.
Track Listing: Sorrows Of The Moon; Two For Joy; Little Shadow; If Not Intertia; The Widening Gyre; Gonz; Let's.
Personnel: Brett Sroka: trombone, computer, whistling; Sam Harris: piano, prepared-piano, Rhodes electric piano; Shawn Baltazor: drums; Mary Halvorsen: guitar, effects (1, 5, 6); Sebastian Kruger: acoustic guitar (7).