Drummer Anton Eger has always been a fascinating ball of energy. His work as a drummer, particularly with the trio Phronesis, is constantly moving, replete with ideas that never seemed to stop but always came on time. If drumming in an acoustic trio were all Eger did in his career, it would already be extremely impressive, but as the closing song to Phronesis’ album of last year, We Are All, can attest, there are some electronic inclinations rattling around as well, inclinations that Eger is fleshing out in full with his debut album, Æ, out Friday on Edition Records.
Each of these ten songs is split in two– an electronic jam and a noodly coda, each piece noted in the song title and separated by plus signs. Second single “Suguruzd” is a trippy, but then the screechy coda “pT” shifts the mood entirely. “Monolith” can go from an escape scene from a cyberpunk dystopia under a moonlit sky to a romantic ballad in the same song, but its coda, “tR” is like the looping music from the map page of an early stage in Super Mario 3. One would think this melding of vibes would be somehow discordant, but instead sits atop like toppings on a sundae. The turn “IOEDWLTO” takes from a smooth jam to a bouncy jaunt and back again before the two vibes intertwine to the point of unrecognizability only to come out on the other side as something new entirely is definitely worth the price of admission.
To pull all this off, Eger’s band deserves plaudits. Bassist Robin Mullarkey is no slouch, playing with a great deal of funny without the cheese factor. Dan Nichols on the Wurlitzer & Prophet 12 is awash with shades and textures that really defines the sound of this album. Matt Calvert is a man of many hats who is giving just the right touches all throughout the album. His touch on the guitar isn’t overwhelming but also far from forgettable. His electronic flourishes meld with the rest of the sound. The same could be said for Petter Eldh who appears throughout the album as well but whose role could best be described on his credits for “?irl MIP” is “synthesizers, modular shit”. Even Phronesis compatriot Ivo Neame shows up on a couple of tunes.
The letter “Æ” is a dipthong, a letter representing a sound that is the melding of two vowel sounds, in this case, the vowels “A” and “E”, Anton Eger’s initials. Two sounds melded as one, like an electronic jazz album, or musical phrases juxtaposed to one another so sensibly nonsensically. Anton Eger has always been full of ideas, disparate, entertaining ideas from all over the place. In his debut album, this kind of melding makes all the sense in the world and is just as entertaining as anything Eger has done as a sideman, even with it being totally different. Yet another melding contrast.
Æ, the debut album from drummer Anton Eger, is out February 8th on Edition Records.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.