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Multitude, Solitude

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Album Review

As reflective of digital modern life, where isolationism passes for social inter-networking merely a portal connection and keystroke away, the trio dubbed Ergo represents a new era in music making where chill and improvisation meet headlong in the personal computer-driven age. Blessed with reputations as leaders in their own right, trombonist Brett Sroka and keyboardist Carl Maguire merge separate and distinct identities in creative jazz-oriented music to create urban, rural and atmospheric soundscapes that go to the far side of any discernible influences, including that of Eno, Sun Ra, Autechre, or Curtis Fuller. There's a tuneful quality, consistent drones and spikes that suggest industrialism, retro fusion via Maguire's Fender Rhodes electric piano, and even an underground bop aesthetic fueled by post-art rock and tempered with the romanticism of Sigur Rós. The trio has also been signified as embracing a laconic existentialism, but you'll hear them go well beyond any strictly defined tones, into completely new horizons similar to nothing you've heard before. Sroka is an accomplished and legitimate jazz trombone player as you clearly hear during his melodic passages on "Little Shadow," an underwater mermaid song carried across the waves of drummer Shawn Baltazor's cymbal rolls and washes. Overdubbed layers of Sroka's slide horn in light clarion echoes identifies the waltz on the Mars motif of "She Haunts Me." But he's playing music on a computer for the bulk of this recording alongside Maguire's Prophet synthesizer and electronics, as punctuated in the extended track "Vessel," as late-night aural beacons in a modern space ballad constantly ebb and flow. The spookier side of the Rhodes piano with synth swells expands exponentially, as electric taps and quivers cement the core values of "Rana Sylvatica." There's no lack of patience and virtue heard on the appropriately titled "Endlessly," where development of the spontaneous composition is taken in measured, tiny steps that never break stride or burst out in over-exuberance. A faux tango in surreal dialog is defined in cries of lonely despair on "Actuator," where the Internet and vacuous connections are an only friend, triggered by these wanton, adept musicians. Ergo has touched on something quite unique and cool in contemporary fusion music with Multitude, Solitude, reaching into and past modern creative, ambient music or mere basic electronica. Teamwork, acute listening skills, and hegemony are a few of the many common threads employed in making this captivating, hypnotic, and attractively exotic music, perhaps best summed up in their web page slug — ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Multitude, Solitude, Ergo
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