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.
9/10 Robin Staff review, 14 October 2015
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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