Esmerine have been producing high quality chamber rock for several years now, and Lost Voices finds them in more of a ‘rock’ mood than ever before. The delicate precision of the arrangements is still there of course, as you would expect from a group that includes members of godspeed you! black emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion. On Montreal’s Constellations, of course.
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The duo at the core of Esmerine have been making tense experimental rock music in one form or another since the old days of the long-absent Set Fire To Flames, carrying on into the dooming fractures of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and sister band A Silver Mt. Zion respectively; through it all, Rebecca Foon and Bruce Cawdron have tried out as many abstract passions as there are, culminating in a gorgeous and peculiar record in ‘Dalmak’, which placed fatiguing drones next to heady melodicism and Turkish instrumentation. ‘Lost Voices’ stands as a revitalisation of their sound: it allows the ambience of their music to remain, but hurries it towards the pace of rock music, a genre this record constantly threatens to contain itself in.
This time around, Esmerine (also including the intuitive drumming of Jamie Thomson and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson) have enlisted colleagues from old bands to play strings and guitar; the result is a different kind of dynamism, with the rolling, almost unceasing melody from Cawdron’s marimba tethered with serene violin from Sophie Trudeau. Together, they play at a hyperreal pace; their combinative work on “Pas Trop Pas Tropes” could document a sped-up montage of plants growing. On “19/14”, the band use newly incorporated basslines and a post-rock drum stutter a la Tortoise, playing like a lofty rock band: leaning inwards, they condense their music, until it explodes with bursts of electric guitar that only add more clarity to a bouncy, patient composition.
The cover of ‘Lost Voices’ -- an all-too-perfect blue against a rising and almost anthropomorphised set of flowers -- speaks to Esmerine’s curious arrangements. There’s something synthetic in their sound, this time: the mallet rolls can tether the record towards lucid jams or fall into the atmosphere, as they do on “A Trick of the Light”, where beaming horns overlap a booming drone, navigating a space between delicacy and despair. As with their many associated acts, it’s hard to feel at ease listening to Esmerine -- but it’s never hard to trust them.
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