Ergo recording fund SALE!!!

Soon Ergo will record our fourth album, As Subtle As Tomorrow. To help fund it I’m offering this sale of our last two CD’s for only $10 each (plus shipping)! Every purchase comes with a free copy of our debut album, “Quality Anatomechanical Music Since 2005.” If you’ve ever considered owning one of our recordings now would be a great time to do so and help fund the next one in the process. Thanks for your support.

sincerely, Brett Sroka

“This wildly experimental electro-acoustic ensemble… concocts some strangely compelling music. From the droning, Terry Riley-inspired loops of “Sorrows of the Moon” to the exquisite music box pointillism of “Two For Joy” and the free-jazz vehicle “Little Shadow”, nothing is predictable or tame on If Not Inertia.”
- Jazz Times

“[Ergo] has a deft touch when it comes to molding silence and drones into rich celestial balladry. The subtleties of the new multitude, solitude are a nifty confluence of George Lewis’s dreamscapes and Miles’s Lonely Fire, and while it’s a record that invites you to watch the embers glow, it does its fair share of shooting off sparks.”
- The Village Voice

“…part of a generation for which Autechre and Sigur Ros are as pressing concerns as Armstrong and Sun Ra. That’s certainly evident in the timbral sophistication, spacey contours and slinky grooves of the band’s debut record, Quality Anatomechanical Music Since 2005.”
- Time Out, New York

(please calculate the appropriate shipping amount for overseas orders. Thank you.)

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This April and May I was an artist-in-residence at the Vilnius Academy of Arts – Nida Art Colony in Lithuania, to compose music for the next Ergo record and to continue work on my proposed installation Sine Qua Non.

I’d never been to Lithuania or the Baltic region, and knew little about it. Being a small, eastern European country (although technically at the geographic center of Europe), with a complicated history, as recently as 1991 becoming independent from the Soviet Union, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found it to be quite thriving, with an rich culture of it’s own, somehow blurring with the cultures of it’s past occupiers, not at all unlike other central European countries.

When I arrived in the capital of Vilnius, winter was still in full force and it continued to snow for the next few weeks. During my weekend there I was fortunate to meet Max Micheliov, a staunch champion of avant-garde Jazz, a web designer for many musicians and part of the team behind the great Lithuanian Jazz label No Business Records. After almost a full day walking around, enjoying delicious Lithuanian beers, meats, and Russian dumpkins and discussing nearly every topic under the sun, I can say he’s a friend and a person I genuinely admire.

The majority of my stay however was on the other side of the country, a long, snowy train ride to Klaipeda, a short, rickety ferry trip to Smiltyne, and a bus ride through the woods to the town of Nida.

Nida is located on the magnificent Curonian Spit, a long sand peninsula located between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, and extending from the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast, and a UNESCO world heritage site. Slowly, the snow melted and deer, moose, birds, hares and boars came out of the stark forests as they turned lush and green. Eventually big, fat mosquitos came out too, and it was summer. Traditionally a fishing village, with it’s own unique heritage and iconography of moose, boats and goddesses of amber and the sea, Nida is now more of a summer destination, so the town slowly came alive too.

I spent my days wandering the dreamy dunes near the Russian border, the Baltic beach and the dense forests looking for secluded spots to practice trombone. Most mornings I biked down to the children’s art school where they generously offered their piano for me to use. Otherwise, I was holed up composing and programming in my massive, modern studio with it’s 30 foot high, vaulted, concrete ceilings and long, dense echo. (which sounded like this)

Many days and nights were also spent talking, dancing, drinking, collaborating and taking searing sauna’s with the seven other artists-in-residence and the gracious staff of the Colony.

This is an excerpt of Swiss spoken word and performance artist Gilles Furtwangler and I collaborating one day. I hope we’ll continue to do more, I’m fascinated by his work.

In April, I gave a workshop to some really bright and enterprising high school kids in the small town of Sakiai and on my way back was able to visit Lithuania’s second city, Kaunas, which is also rich in history and art. Pictured below is the massive Fortas IX monument to Holocaust and World War II victims, the re-established Fluxus Ministries and the Old Town Square.

Towards the end our stay the Academy hosted an international arts symposium where we each got to present our work and meet dozen of artists, teachers, curators, and thinkers. This .gif, courtesy of artist Carlos Carmonamedina, is of violinist John W. Fail presenting some sounds with me during the open studios. John is also a provocateur who never seems to sit still, during his stay he turned his room into a bar.

I also presented a prototype of the generative processing that will be used in Sine Qua Non. This example processes samples of Carl Maguire’s playing piano.

Afterwards I traveled to Riga, Latvia, Strasbourg and Paris, France and Amsterdam, Holland. Now I’m back in Brooklyn preparing to play some gigs with Ergo and record our fourth record, “As Subtle As Tomorrow,” and working towards the debut release by Cherubim on the Zeromoon label this fall. Below is a bit of Ergo’s new music, I hope you can make to our shows. Thanks for reading, as always, we love you madly.

Monday, July 8, 930pm
ShapeShifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday, July 26, 730pm
The Lily-Pad
1353 Cambridge St., Inman Sq. Cambridge, MA

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Computer Music Journal

M.I.T.’s Computer Music Journal recently reviewed the Sonic Circuits Festival from last fall, of our performance they wrote:

“Ergo uniquely combined live modifications of sound with chordal materials that were deeply rooted in traditional jazz harmonic practice. The hybrid cross-genre sound focused on the lengthy, developed rhythmic and melodic lines that referred to minimalism while avoiding any obvious cliches.”

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latest news

Haven’t had too much to report lately, but here are some of my recent activities:
• I’m just finishing up the score to “The Jerusalem Syndrome”, which is coming together nicely and I think will be a very compelling documentary. You can hear a bit of that here.

• In less than two weeks I’ll be headed to the Nida Art Colony in Lithuania to finish composing the next Ergo record, continue work on my installation project Sine Qua Non, as well as mix some recordings related to that project with pianist Carl Maguire and flutist Kaoru Watanabe.

• The Cherubim record (possibly to be titled, “Joyful Shrieks of the Cherubim”, after a line in The Brothers Karamazov) is finished and so we’re trying to find a label or figure out the best way to release it. Let me know if you have any ideas. Here’s is another track that will be on that record:

It looks like 2013 will mostly be about getting these projects together, and hopefully by the end of the year bringing them to the public. Thanks for your support, and as always, we love you madly.

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Institute of Electronic Arts

Here’s a recent post from the Institute of Electronic Arts at Alfred University about my recent visit-

I have lot’s of audio and video from the week to go through, so there’s more to come soon…

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Favorites of 2012

I can’t say I’ve heard enough new releases this past year to have a “best of” list, but here are some of the favorites that I did hear, in no particular order:

Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason – Solaris
This record takes on the ambitious task of creating a new score to Tarkovsky haunting classic “Solaris”, the result are a powerful, worthy blend of orchestral composition and visceral sound design. I didn’t hear much about this one and as I spend more time with it I’m sure it’ll continue to reveal new details.

Dan Deacon – America
Although I didn’t feel that “America” evolved much from Deacons prior record, “Bromst”,  it has some expansive, grandiose moments that remind of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”, and I love his style of spazzy, midi minimalism.

Janel & Anthony – Where is Home
Fellow Cuneiform artists Janel & Anthony experiment with exotic, beguiling melody, ambient and progressive sensibilities in just the way I like. I’m still kicking myself for missing both their Brooklyn show and their Sonic Circuits Festival show.

Grizzly Bear – Shields
This one blew me away. It brings so many things together in such a beautiful, cohesive way – poignant writing and performances, detailed production that experiments with spaces, textures and at times undercurrents of violent noise, harmonies and riffs that sound at times like something the Bad Plus’ might play. Most people like anthems, they’re anthems for a reason – they’re powerful, but I’m often annoyed by the manipulative and obvious ones that many bands use, on Shields Grizzly Bear employs anthems that grip you slowly and subtly.

Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe
I love Bobby Womack, but I wasn’t really expecting to like this record. However Damion Albarn’s futuristic and funky production together with his soulful voice has a bit of magic to it. Sort of like something Thom Yorke would make if he had grown up in the black church. 

Vijay Iyer – Accelerando
Using minimalism, the avant-garde and groove Vijay’s trio has really hit on refined, powerful sound. I think I’ve heard him say that the Duke/Mingus/Max record “Money Jungle” is one of the main inspirations of this trio, and that’s one of my favorite records of all time, totally unique in Jazz, and I wish more bands took their point of departure from it.

Peter Wright – Folk Songs and Blackness
I’m a fan of drones and starkness whenever it’s done well, Peter Wright reminds me of Loren Connors in that way. This record is only $5 at


Ergo – If Not Inertia
I’m really proud of this record, but was disappointed that critics, by and large, seemed to have missed out on it.  For a record with the least amount of written material I’ve ever done, we rehearsed more than any other record to achieve a very refined sound and new approach for the group.  I understand that there are too many great records coming out every year and a lot of artists doing incredible work, so I tried not to have too big a pity party for myself, but I felt somewhat vindicated that Destination Out, a blog that I read and respect felt the same way.

Thanks for reading and supporting, I’m very much looking forward to some good things in 2013, including: developing my first sound installation at Alfred U’s Institute of Electronic Arts, releasing the first Cherubim record, a two month residency in Lithuania, and hopefully recording the next Ergo record, stay tuned!

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Music Factory

Music Factory at the EyeBeam Art + Technology center is a 96 hour continuous improvisation that’s happening right now through tomorrow night.  You can watch it live via Ustream at

Here’s some sound from this morning around 4am with curator Jackson Moore on saxophone and myself on laptop-

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The Necks

I really love the Australian piano trio the Necks.  They have a collective approach to performing and spontaneously composing that is unparallelled in my opinion.  It generally falls beyond the genre’s of jazz, rock, minimalism and ambient music, but utilizes aspects of them all. Listening to the Necks  (especially live) creates the paradoxical feelings of intense focus, as if being in the midst of a micro-detailed task, and towards the end of a performance, or somewhere in the middle, the awe of a great vista or a roiling ocean surrounding you.   Seeing them at Le Poisson Rouge in 2009 was a mesmerizing, sublime experience.

I quite enjoyed this radio piece discussing their approach-

Not Just Music: collective authoring and new Australian music

Saturday 10 November 2012 4:05PM (view full episode)
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Sine Qua Non with Kaoru Watanabe

Thursday, October 25 915pm
Kaoru Watanabe-flutes, Brett Sroka-laptop
Shapshifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place
(Park Slope) Brooklyn, NY (map)

This Thursday at Shapeshifter Lab I’ll be collaborating with one of my oldest friends, Kaoru Watanabe, for the first time. Kaoru and I met on our first day of college at Manhattan School of Music, (in a time even before the internet, if you can imagine that). Because of our mutual love of skateboarding (and music) we became friends instantly, and during those four years discovered, learned and experienced so much. Kaoru had a yearning to connect with his roots and after school took the boldest move of any of our classmates, he moved to the remote Sado Island in Japan to audition for Kodo, the world renowned Taiko Ensemble. For a decade he toured the world with them and in 2006 returned to New York a seasoned, brilliant musician.

Little by little over the past year we’ve been putting together a computer and flute/fue project, which was has lead to a broader installation that I’ve been imagining for for a while. Sine Qua Non will be a generative surround-sound installation that evolves out of a live, improvisational performance, and I’m pleased to announce I’ve recently been invited to develop it at the Institute of Electronic Arts at Alfred University. Thursday’s show will illustrate the performance aspect of it, and sound something like this:

Sine Qua Non: kb002 by srokasonic Sine Qua Non: kb001 by srokasonic

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