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TRACK LIST: 1. Be 11:17 2. Interlude I 0:35 3. Part of Me, Part of You 10:59 4. Interlude II 0:59 5. Successive Waves 12:42 6. Interlude III 1:13 7. Winterís Solace 11:31 LINEUP: Andy Milas - guitars Onur Dilisen - violin Mac Ritchey - oud, bouzouki Tom Martin - bass George Lernis - drums, percussion
Prolusion. US band ESTHEMA has been a going entity since 2006, and since the band was formed they have released a total of four studio albums. Their most recent CD is called "IIII", and was self released by the band in 2018.
Analysis. While Esthema has a long and varied list of genres they are interested in and inspired by, there's no denying that the music they create themselves by and large falls into one category, namely world music. One with progressive intent mind you, and with a foot and a half inside the folk part of the progressive rock universe a natural given at that. It should also be noted that instrumental compositions is this band's specialty. This initial description pretty much sums up the music on this album at a core level. When delving into the details, they may not be all that much more interesting for many music fans, as the initial description probably is descriptive enough for the majority. But for those with an interest on a more detailed level, there are a few matters to take note of. This latest album is, pretty much, a four song long album, with brief interludes in between that probably serves a dual purpose: In part to add a contrasting feature in between the compositions, and in part to provide variation so that the album experience doesn't become too one-dimensional. There are a lot of similarities all the major compositions share. The use of acoustic guitar as a core motif provider, with various plucked string instruments providing solo runs and overlays with notes and scales borrowing liberally from Mediterranean music and Middle Eastern music traditions, with the violin used to emphasize this as well as to provide a contrast in sound as well as tones. All the songs ebb and flow in pace and intensity, alternating between gentle and sparse arrangements to full, rich and occasionally busy and challenging ones. Subtle differences can be noted between them of course: A touch of jazz as flavoring here, a nod towards post-rock there, some are more energetic and uplifting in general, others are more tranquil and melancholic, to the point of being haunting and brooding as far as the latter is concerned. This is very much a uniform production, where the more subtle differences dominate rather than the striking ones. As such this isn't an immediate production, but an album that needs repeated listens before you get to know it. Head music if you like, music that demands a bit more from the listener than the average album production. It is a well made one at that, although I note that the interludes tended to be a so and so experience, and with long compositions I did find that the more challenging arrangements towards the end came to be perhaps a little too much when listening intently and focused.
Conclusion. Esthema is a band that specialize in what might be described as instrumental progressive world music, taking the majority of their cues from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern traditions. Those who find that description alluring, and that tends to favor material of this kind to be explored in a more progressive and sophisticated manner, should take note of this band in general and this album in particular.
Progmessor: June 27th 2019
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