Operating within a radical conceptual framework, but channeled through the voice of modern pop music, New York City-based art pop ensemble Erica Eso bridges aesthetic and musical gesture in a way that could only be found in our contemporary post-everything information age. While the band's 2015 debut 2019 had a more "bedroom pop" essence in its recording and execution, 129 Dreamless GMG refines, expands, and evolves the Erica Eso sound from home studio experimentation to a full-fledged band format, with live drums (Rhonda Lowry), bass (Nathanial Morgan), back-up vocals (Ellen O, Angelica Bess), and collaboration more central to the arrangements. Under the leadership and compositional vision of Weston Minissali (Cloud Becomes Your Hand, VaVatican), Erica Eso delivers the newness of microtonality fused with enough melody and harmony to satisfy the ears of listeners from all different inclinations.
As time moves rapidly forward, while information and technology become a more integral part of our culture, Erica Eso demonstrates the musical amalgamation of styles and the obliteration of genre as music mutates and adapts with the ages. Tracks like "Fire Is The Mouth" thrive on Krautrock-inspired rhythmic power, while "Love-gun" draws heavily from contemporary sultry R&B. On the other hand, tracks like "Mirror Stage I & II" stand in contrast to the poppier material on the record, by embracing concréte and collage compositions in a long-form, patient anti-structure. Born of group improvisation then meticulously edited, these tracks evoke mournful tenderness, horror and serenity all in their joint 8-minute span.
Further deviating from expectations, "Vaccination Free" develops a liturgical sensibility through the collective harmonic recitation of text, transmitting existential themes of emptiness, form, and the moment's reckoning with futurity. As scattered as this might seem in words, the band doesn't clunkily jump from genre to genre, but, with the help of mixing engineer Steve Marion (of Delicate Steve), translates these influences into their own distilled language, their self-proclaimed "femmed-out microtonal synth pop."
Lyrically, Erica Eso speaks in poetic fragments, strung together in phrases that are thoughtfully composed, allowing them to unfold and develop in unexpected ways alongside their corresponding song structures. However, their abstraction does not mean these lyrics are devoid of content. As the American political climate intensifies, Erica seems to position herself not necessarily on the front lines of immediate response, but as an artistic voice that advocates for the empowerment of quiet reflection on the ultimately ungraspable paradoxes of the world: self and other, living and dying, boi and gurl, and so on. Lyrical elements of candid humor and absurdity further contribute to the impossible-to-pidgeonhole nature of the band.
To hone their signature sound, Erica Eso draws stylistically from the 5 previous decades of popular Western music history – the glamour and danceable rhythms of the 70s, the fervent electronic discovery of the 80s, the indie ethos and technological refinement of the 90s, up to the chaotic, digital wonderland of post-millennial radio hits. In an age of extreme change and global uncertainty, 129 Dreamless GMG conceptually raises many important questions, accompanied by satisfying, non-linguistic musical answers to help us find our way into the Next Age.