Friday, June 5, 2020
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Artist: Ergo (@)
Title: As Subtle As Tomorrow
Format: CD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Ergo's "As Subtle As Tomorrow" is one of the most impressive outputs recently labeled by the excellent Cuneiform - an imprint that should regularly be checked by lovers of high-quality contemporary music -. Unlike other remarkable releases from the label founded and masterfully managed by Steven Feigenbaum and his wife Joyce, "As Subtle As Tomorrow" doesn't feature any instrumental explosions or those stunning melodies that could get matched to prodigious strokes of geniality, but the gently evocative infusion of progressive jazz, ambient and electronics by sonic architect and composer Brett Sroka (playing trombone and controlling computer), Sam Harris (on - sometimes prepared - piano and Fender Rhodes) and Shawn Baltazor (on drums) orbits around minimalism and electro-acoustic textures in a way that manages to render the likewise evocative and somehow mysterious poem by Emily Dickinson, that gave name to this release: "As subtle as tomorrow/That never came,/A warrant, a conviction,/Yet but a name.". Sroka, who took fragments of the poem as titles of each of the seven pieces of this suite, says: "She’s my favorite poet. There’s something about her simplicity and succinctness and clarity, which is so direct and poignant, that I decided I wanted to use that verse for this suite. As I started writing, I gave fragments to different pieces, and the only reason that the poem is broken up is that the music flowed better that way. The title for each one felt right.”. This fiery bolt of inspiration influenced the style of Ergo, who wisely interlaced silence or quieter moments in their musical flow, fitting any intense reflection on time and destiny that both music and Dickinson's words could inspire and the firm interest in ambient music by Sroka, who implements techniques like granular synthesis, slicing/sequencing, time and pitch shifting, is the lymphatic element of the sonic language developed on this album by this trio: “There’s something that appeals to me about space and silence and attractive melodies. I’m interested in ambient music, which led to Arvo PÄrt and John Cage and patient listening music that incorporates a lot of silence. One motivation might have been a response to jazz that’s out there, music that’s hyper technical, hyper busy, with a lot going on all the time.". The path, starting where the frail motif of "as tomorrow" sounds like defrosting and ending where the blossoming drum by Shawn sound like exploding in the rising intense whirl on the 10-minutes lasting suite "a name", deserves to be crossed.