A- (if you’re into that sort of thing)
D (if you’re not)
Ergo’s new album multitude, solitude comes with a nifty insert that features an early review/glowing praise lauding Ergo’s brilliance. Barry Vacker, professor of media, cultural and utopian theory at Temple University, opens the adulation with just three words: “Ergo is cool.”
Not so fast, Ergo.
I’ll dismiss for a moment the hubris that motivates a band to put “We are cool” in the first line of the literature that ships with the album. Let’s do a brief rundown of “cool.” Elvis was cool for a while. Then The Beatles were cool, and then some other bands were cool (including, but not limited to, The Clash, Run DMC, and more recently Vampire Weekend in that Vineyard Vines-y sort of way). Ergo, I mean, God, of all people you should know what’s cool, you’re from Brooklyn of all places. You’re from the Mecca of tight-pants, I liked-cool-before-it-was-cool cool. But you know what really isn’t that cool? Ambient music.
And that’s what multitude, solitude is. Ambient, experimental, atmospheric music. A lot of drum, a wailing trombone, a little gentle piano, and synth. It’s not terrible stuff, Ergo. The fact that you can make discord work, that you can turn the intentionally not-melodious into music is an accomplishment. The tracks almost uniformly start near-silent, build with straggling cymbal strikes and held trombone notes into a chaotic mess, and crash in on themselves. If atmosphere is what you’re going for, you’ve struck gold. Your album is at once creepy, suspenseful, and dizzying.
But that doesn’t make multitude, solitude cool. It makes the album play like the soundtrack to an avant-garde student film that doesn’t exist. It makes the album sound like something a professor of music theory would put together meticulously while designing lesson plans on freeform neo-jazz.
It also doesn’t make me want to listen to multitude, solitude again anytime soon.
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