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Ergo: Multitude, Solitude

Nic Jones By

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This is a trio working the electro-acoustic margins, as the instrumental line-up might suggest; and whilst Ergo's music often flirts with ambient notions, there is equally a predominant air of unease about their work, as if by mutual consent they can only reach a kind of uneasy rapprochement with both silence and the moment.

The air of the unresolved—which is also sometimes symptomatic of their work—could similarly be the outcome of shared resolve. Indeed without that air the lengthy "Vessel" might congeal into something only too ambient in its very lack of harmonic and melodic development. As it is, this is music which for all of the rhythmic impetus generated by drummer Shawn Baltazor tends to loom as much as it has momentum. Brett Sroka's trombone represents an all too human voice in the midst of dead and near-dead keyboard embellishments, but the overall effect is tantalizing in its indeterminacy.

Downbeat music serves its own ends, of course, and there's no reason to believe that it necessarily follows some induced high. "Endlessly (Multitude, Solitude)" makes the point. Here, keyboardist Carl Maguire—the man who's responsible for some of the stimulating releases of recent years with his band Floriculture—generates all kinds of excuses for stasis with near-static, repetitive keyboard figures, even as the music develops a kind of distinctly non-linear flow. The result is almost an uneasy compromise between two arguably irreconcilable notions, but any tension that's generated doesn't stem from that but rather from the fact that the trio is adept at thinking as one. The outcome of the collective ideal is not so much a headlong plunge as it is a seemingly infinite capacity for reflection, even while the music never drifts into the background.

There isn't mood music here either, regardless of whatever that ragged notion might imply. The relative sweetness of "She Haunts Me" gives the lie to the title; in the midst of electronic filigrees, Maguire and Sroka first compete to offer a lead, but then, by mutual agreement, seem to abandon the notion as too facile. When the music takes up some liquid space it's with a certain resolve. The noise of the trio is subdued to the point of no return, but that point is skillfully avoided, as if they know the territory too well to want to go there.


Track Listing: Rana Sylvatica; Vessel; She Haunts Me; Little Shadow; Endlessly (Multitude, Solitude); Actuator.

Personnel: Brett Sroka: trombone, computer; Carl Maguire: Rhodes electric piano, Prophet synthesizer, electronic effects; Shawn Baltazor: drums.

Title: Multitude, Solitude | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


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