Jim Doutrich has been recording enigmatic, synth-driven indie pop under the guise of Ennui for nearly a decade, quietly carving out one of the best back catalogs in the Pittsburgh music scene. His glitchy, restless 2008 album The Myth in Which We Live
and his Italo disco-infused 2011 album Formation of Tides
boast accomplished production, betraying the fact that Doutrich is a studio hound.
Three years ago, I briefly toured the recording space in Doutrich's Lawrenceville apartment ahead of the release of Formation of Tides
as he outlined his work ethic with collaborator Sam McUmber.
For months, it was a nightly endeavor of songwriting, rehersals, recording, production tweaking, more rehersals, more recording, more production tweaking, new inspirations, new layers, and so on. It was obvious even then that Doutrich was unwavering in his commitment to his music on an almost monastic level, especially after spending the early parts of his career trying to court interest from record labels and the music press.
Years ago, I spent half my time acting as band manager, worrying about what shows we were playing and what labels might be interested. That was energy ill-spent,” said Doutrich. “My main focus has to be making music and not sending out emails all day hoping someone will release my stuff. Even now, I get a little frustrated diverting my time to promotional stuff but it's part of the deal and I understand that. Regardless, you should make music because you want to make music and not because a label or website thinks it's good.”
Now, Doutrich readies the relase of his fourth proper album Telepathic Beat
on Mush Records (Bibio, Aesop Rock, Daedelus), the groundwork of which, unknown to me at the time, was laid during that home studio visit in 2011. McUmber helped Doutrich to initially sketch out the album’s early demos, but eventually, he recorded Telepathic Beat
by himself for nearly two years, constructing the album without the benefit of live band rehersals. As a result, Telepathic Beat
is a purely studio record, full of chilly house music beats, cascades of synths, keyboards, and ambient noise that carries under it a sense of loneliness and nostalgia. As Doutrich explains, Telepathic Beat
is about exploring the seemingly endless summers that ended long ago.
“Well, I never want summer to end, but the album is more about the idea of the music taking you back to a summer setting once it has passed. More specifically, it's the idea of music transporting you to a previous place and time through nostalgia. Our favorite music leaves an imprint.”
Tracks like "Summer of Love" -- riffing off Phil Collins' “Take Me Home” -- and the island-hopping pop of “Feel It” are anthemic, aiming to light up dance floors with day-glo bursts of drum machines and bottle rocket synths, but also hermetic: tightly sealed off and perfectly arranged. Understanding the solitary nature of Doutrich’s creative process brings the paradox of Telepathic Beat
into stark relief.
“I had a lot of ideas of how I wanted the record to sound while I was recording it but by the end of the process, the music really took control of itself,” said Doutrich. “Oddly, I didn't want it to be as pop as the record ended up being but, again, the music sort of naturally went that way and I didn't fight it. I definitely was hoping this record would be more upbeat and cohesive than the last one and I think I at least achieved that.”
Doutrich as Ennui will be playing his record release show for Telepathic Beat along with collaborator Sam Hizer at 10 p.m. Friday
at Space Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh. For more information, visit Space Gallery’s website at www.spacepittsburgh.org.
(812 Liberty Avenue, Downtown, Space Gallery