Simone Eringfeld

It’s difficult to imagine a more apt title than ‘Please Hold’ for Simone Eringfeld’s debut EP. A postgraduate researcher here in Cambridge, Eringfeld’s fieldwork was put on pause with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. In a unique position, forced to abandon her planned area of study, and bridging the gap between student and academic, she seized upon the opportunity to redirect her research. The focus? The future of education in a ‘post-coronial’ world. What we find in Please Hold is the product of this research, presented in the form of an EP. An emphatic tribute to the virtual learning experience, it gives a voice to the student perspective of lockdown through a combination of spoken word poetry, eerie vocal harmonies and spacey beats. Across the four tracks of the EP, zoom-induced fatigue and nostalgia for post-lecture café chat lead us to bigger questions about the future of higher education.

Away from the moral and political tension normally involved in discourse surrounding Covid measures, each song on Eringfeld’s EP is driven by honesty and human longing. The first track, “I Miss”, is a brilliant summary of the EP’s strengths, in which Eringfeld lists the everyday, pre-Covid moments she yearns for, broken up by a liturgical repetition of ‘I miss’. Sparse instrumentation establishes a haunting sense of emptiness, coupled with an eerie, emotive harmony of subdued wailing. Although intense and dramatic, it’s one of the tracks that follows a more regular song structure, and is perhaps more likely to crop up in a playlist, compared to the more narrative and eclectic following tracks.

“It doesn’t make for easy listening, but that’s quite clearly not the intention of these tracks”

The EP's title track, “Please Hold” begins as a one-person simulation of a group work environment, mundanities and stressful thoughts colliding in the same airspace. We are jolted back into a cold reality with a simulated zoom call, featuring all the usual connection issues. The track does well to embody the uncomfortable contrast between the simultaneously intrusive and isolating nature of learning from home. The track’s direction wanders a little after this, as it gets more conceptual, but the message remains in tact. In fact, this is a theme across the EP: as the tracks progress, they get more conceptual and less personal. We move between vague but well-intentioned phrases such as ‘the point of education is to make you more human’, on “More Human” and lines which are oversaturated with political terminology. As a result, the later songs seem to open up more intellectual questions than they provide answers for. It doesn’t make for easy listening, but that’s quite clearly not the intention of these tracks.


Mountain View

Hip-hop’s problem with labels

What Eringfeld has released is more than just a vehicle for data or research. It gives a voice and a platform to a cohort of students and academics dismayed and underwhelmed by every stage of the government’s Covid exit-strategy, and apparent non-plan for higher education. Her four-track long debut EP wrings out the sentiments of our shared student experience of this pandemic: part-music, part-poetry, part-research project, it is a worthy representation. Unhindered by occasional moments of cliché, in its best moments, the EP is powerful recreation of the mental isolation where personal anxieties meet global catastrophe. Thankfully, this time, it’s an isolation we get to dip into on our own terms, play and pause buttons at the ready. Let’s hope it stays that way.