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Posted Jun 16th, 2011 (8:19 pm) by Samantha Nelson
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The word ennui (derived from Old French) is defined as “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent, resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom”, making it a pretty interesting name choice for a band. However, Pittsburgh’s Ennui, comprised of singer/keyboardist Jim Doutrich and keyboardist Sam McUmber make music that is anything but.

Founded in the summer of 2004, the band's lineup has changed over the years (beginning as a four-person group, then down to three, and now as a striking duo) and they have toured the U.S. while charging forward as an electronically-driven sound. Lead singer Doutrich writes the lyrics, as well as taking on keyboard and guitar duties, while McUmber (who graduated from Carnegie Mellon with degrees in German and piano) composes, plays keyboards, and does a host of other things. Though the two have only been playing as duo for a short time, the vibe and energy between them has always been the driving force behind Ennui. For them, it's about the music and creativity involved in making it. "It's more likely we can get on the same wavelength...Our creative goals are easier to reach," McUmber told backwheniwasyourage.blogspot.com. Though the paring down has focused the group and it's music, it has obviously changed how the band's live shows go as well as how many they do. Doutrich explained to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "We basically restructured ourselves so that it's just the two of us now, so we're finally getting the live show down, which might open up more doors to play a little more."

Their newest album, Formation of Tides (released in April), is a surprising and exciting mix of slow, fast, ambient, and alien. Along with percussion and bass (played by Luke Savage and Joe Rusnak, respectively), the synthesizer reigns supreme. (The band has professed a "Fender-Rhodes idolatry" on one of their profiles.) Fifteen vintage synthesizers were used for terrific results: a beautifully ambient world composed of sweeping melodies, dreamy, soft vocals, and light percussion. "Coconino" is a free download on their Bandcamp, and worth a listen – it’s a great taste of their sound and a lovely, catchy track.

Ennui’s music is inventive, fun, flowing, and wild. Upon closer inspection, their band name is also all of these things. Perhaps it really is a suitable name after all.

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