PHOTOS/REVIEW: Anton Eger at the Vortex


Anton Eger
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
Anton Eger
(Vortex, 25 April 2018. Photos by Monika S. Jakubowska. Words by AJ Dehany)

Drummer Anton Eger is one third of the mighty Phronesis with Jasper Høiby and Ivo Neame. Neame has been an active bandleader for years with his own trio, quartet, quintet and octet. Now Anton Eger has stepped forward with his own quartet and a set of compositions reflecting an eclectic sense of the contemporary scene rather than oldskool jazz.

The group is like a less proggy Shobaleader One or a proggier Robert Glasper Experiment, often reminiscent of Radiohead and the textural-timbral interest of post-rock. Eger’s compositional structures create a satisfying development without the sometimes over-hurried impulse to crash about between time signatures that some listeners to this kind of music can find disorienting.

Anton Eger
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
Anton Eger himself describes the music as “an eclectic genre-defying mix of electronica, hardcore contemporary beats and retro musical guilty pleasures.”

The group’s first set of Eger originals set out the band’s stall compositionally and sonically. Her and Sultans of… introduced an involved electronic sound dominated by Dan Nicholl’s Wurlitzer. Monolith was a highlight, very fast, driven by chiming guitars and Eger’s tireless straight rock playing; I think there was intended to be a soaring modulated closing section that didn’t quite come off on the night but should be tremendous if they nail it on the record. If Only Every Day Was Like This One typifies the mixture of melodicism and angularity in Eger’s writing, both pretty and unsettling. Girl M.I.P. is a deep k-hole dub with hypnotic trance chords and glitch rhythms, taking in some cheeky, cheesy rave anthem moments and the dark throbbing sub-bass of trap.

The second set stretched out into more open forms exploring sound and atmosphere. Never Not reworks the shifting suspended chords of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place with an electronic pulse and Anton in a more supporting role, before drilling into proggier group riffing. Consciousness Distraction takes us even further from the more defined structures of the first set. Franska Låten (Swedish for French Song) has Anton filling in between a super minimal drum machine pattern at the slowest of tempos; a low-key slow-tempo rock ballad building to epic post-rock. LA Spring brings a sonic abstraction focusing on rhythm and delay-fx, creating an eerie spaciousness reminiscent of Hello Skinny. Oxford Supernova showcases the band’s range with angular playing, looser feels, odd time signatures, lighter and then harder sections, with a satisfying compositional shape and sense of movement and completion.

Anton Eger has a natural flamboyance that draws you into his intense style of playing, with the varied rhythmic detail of jazz brought to rhythms more associated with rock and dance music. On this first outing as a band leader, he said: “I’m not a good stand-up comedian. I’ve never stood up with a mike in my hand before. That’s why we’re gonna play some more music instead.”

Dan Nicholls
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
Dan Nicholls (Squarepusher, Goldie, Arve Henriksen, Strobes) brings a huge sound from a Wurlitzer and Roland A-49 MIDI keyboard controller and a rack of pedals and processing, bringing a rich multi-dimensional sonic spectrum to colour, timbrally and harmonically, Eger’s angular melodic themes.

Matt Calvert
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
Matt Calvert (Three Trapped Tigers, Heritage Orchestra, MD for Goldie's live band) on guitar brings a sparkle and shimmer that cuts through the upper registers of the group’s dense sound, with responsive and diverse rhythm-playing and soloing.

Rob Mullarkey
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
Robin Mullarkey (Jacob Collier, Eska, Zero 7) playing Duesenberg and Yamaha basses has played with Anton Eger as a heavy rhythm section for Andrew McCormack’s Graviton, where they similarly displayed a shared rhythmic tightness allied to an expansive cosmic sense.

Anton Eger's band
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
The constellation of talents in this band seemed so well-suited that it was remarkable to hear, on this, the Wednesday evening at the Vortex, that “Before Monday we had never played before, ever.”

The group’s as-yet-unrecorded album is scheduled for release in February 2019. The debut gig packed out the Vortex with a young audience drawn from beyond mainstream jazz. Anton Eger said, “I thought we were just gonna play a little gig in London before we recorded our album next month. It was bigger than I thought!”

Reflections at the Vortex
Photo Credit: Monika S. Jakubowska
AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk

SET LISTS

1. HER
2. Sultans of Beat
3. Monolith
4. If Only Every Day Was Like This One
5. Girl M.I.P.

1. Never Not
2. Conciseness/Distraction
3. Franska Låten
4. Le Sphinx
5. Oxford Supernova


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