Eulogy Eulogy always plays the “pretty notes” on their debut EP, To Be True.
Miles Davis is often quoted as saying, “Don’t worry about playing a lot of notes, just find the pretty ones.” That is a beautiful expression of what jazz can be, and a spurn against dramatic showmanship in music. Devon Sevas’ indie orchestra Eulogy Eulogyworks patiently to find those pretty notes. They can get loud, noisy, and luxurious, but never pompous or overly sensational.
Eulogy Eulogy has a big instrumental lineup: saxes, trombones, guitars, synths, upright and electric bass, piano, and percussion. They also use ambient drone vocals and field recordings from city commutes. They’re influenced by more than just jazz; they blend indie, folk, and prog rock together. Together, their sound is grand but surprisingly restrained, tender, — and yes — pretty.
To Be True is the first EP from Eulogy Eulogy. It was released on the same date as their trumpeter Mac Rogers’ EP, Where Stems Meet Noise. These two projects can be seen as companions: they’re both three tracks long, they share quite a few musicians, and they’re both jazz-inspired projects.
Mac Rogers’ trumpet playing definitely stands out on this EP, as it did on his own Where Stems Meet Noise. But Eulogy Eulogy’s To Be True also introduces the creativity of Devon Sevas. To Be True follows the sonic trajectory laid out in the song titles. “Prelude” is a slow and gentle track with folky guitars and swelling horns that sets the relaxing tone of the EP. The title track and climax is also folky and relaxing, but with a much more energy than “Prelude”. Repetitive electric guitar leads and rock drums get embellished and helped along by jazzy piano flourishes and a slick horn section. It’s the most prog-rock song on the EP and the most memorable.
To Be True finishes with “Dwindle,” an ambient soundscape featuring droning synth and strange, scratchy percussive samples of field recordings, with patient and lovely instrumentation dissolving into it. Guitars, bass, piano, percussion, and synthesizers all improvise and interact without too much chaos or dissonance. They take their time, they listen to each other, and they contribute delicately to the nine-minute piece. Toward the end everything gets swallowed by gorgeous, droning vocals and synthesizer, like a strong breeze blowing over the music. Then, for the last moments, the band explodes into noisier jazz and rock improvisation only to “Dwindle” out.
The EP isn’t just jazz; with prog-rock and ambient influences, it has a lot going for it and a lot going on. Despite the quality and breadth of influence on this project, Eulogy Eulogy always makes sure to “play the pretty notes.”