Ennui returns with a new lineup, first record in years | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ennui returns with a new lineup, first record in years

"Some days I spend hours and hours and hours on one little sound."

Soaking up the last of summer: Ennui's Jim Doutrich
Photo courtesy of Peter Pawlowski
Soaking up the last of summer: Ennui's Jim Doutrich

In the back room at Constellation Coffee, in Lawrenceville, before settling in to discuss his new album, Telepathic Beat, Jim Doutrich advocates the benefits of pour-over coffee.

"This Chemex, it's a longer drip, and it absorbs differently," he says. "Everything is measured out. [The barista] has it on a scale, so everything is, like, very calculated, and then you get a precise cup of coffee."

For its part, the album, being released under the name Ennui, took about two years to percolate into its final form. Talk about precision.

"Some days I spend hours and hours and hours on one little sound," says Doutrich.

"I try to work as much as I can, but as much as I try to control the song, I let it go where it needs to go. It sort of takes its own course. Despite the fact that you think you're controlling it, the song will turn into what it needs to turn into."

Telepathic Beat, which comes out Sept. 23, on Mush Records, was mixed in Brooklyn with producer Al Carlson (Oneohtrix Point Never, Autre Ne Veut). Its emotional center is "Summer of Love," seven sun-drenched minutes of spiraling synths and Doutrich's dreamy vocals that should push back autumn for at least a couple of weeks.

Doutrich cites acts on vanguard electronic label Warp as his main influence, especially Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada.

"If I'm influenced by a song, or a group, it's the initial idea," says Doutrich. "But as I work on the song more and more, I definitely start to block influences out.

"Whether it sounds better or not, I just want my songs to have this unique quality to them."

For now, Doutrich is working on translating the album for a live setting. He has enlisted neighbor and friend Ryan Hizer, formerly of the Morgantown band Librarians, to join him onstage. Before the show, they'll decamp for two weeks of rehearsal at a nearby studio rented by friends in another local band, Mariage Blanc, in anticipation of Ennui's first live show in its current incarnation.

If the stage name sounds familiar, it is because Ennui is also the name of Doutrich's former band, which was most recently a duo of him and Sam McUmber.

Late in 2011, after the two released the synth-rock album Formation of Tides, the former roommates began to work on what would become the basis for Telepathic Beat.

"He was there for a while," says Doutrich about McUmber, "and he was there for all the initial ideas, all the initial structure of the songs. But there's only so much two people can do when you're not rehearsing. You're just sitting in front of a computer working on parts."

McUmber has listened to his friend's new album, and he calls the finished product "pretty great."

"I think there are some really beautiful, ethereal sounds," he says, "and you can hear a lot of diverse influences in the music; I was proud to be a small part of it."

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
25 images

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith