Album of the Day: Esmerine, “Mechanics Of Dominion”
By JR Moores · December 07, 2017 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Though lesser known than post-rock giants like Sigur Rós or Mogwai, Esmerine are one of those associated Canadian acts you might’ve been lucky enough to discover once you’d exhausted the entire output of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but needed a further fix. Formed by cellist Rebecca Foon and drummer/percussionist Bruce Cawdron—who met while working together in the Godspeed offshoot act Set Fire To Flames—Esmerine released two albums of serene chamber music in the 2000s.Since regrouping in 2010, Esmerine’s lineup and repertoire has extended to a cross-genre quintet which regularly welcomes guest musicians into the fold. Glancing at the list of instruments used to record Mechanics Of Dominion—piano, guitar, marimbas, glockenspiel, pump organ, violin, viola, valved cavalry horn, and mellophone (to name just nine)—you might worry that Esmerine could swell to the sprawling size of Godspeed’s own orchestra and risk losing what made the project stand out in the first place.
Not so. Esmerine have fruitfully expanded their palate while maintaining a sense of the original duo’s elegant neo-classical minimalism. Mechanics Of Dominion is packed with intriguing evolutions in mood, without resorting to the predictable slow build-ups and bombastic crescendos that have made much recent post-rock sound overly formulaic. Yes, the album has soft parts and louder sections, passages of calm melancholy and bolder dramatic turns (not least when the drums really kick in) but they are executed and structured with more subtlety than most contemporaries can muster, while Esmerine’s use of exotic polyrhythmic percussion lifts their music to another plane entirely.
JR Moores
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