Esmerine should be known to Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans. Once again, it’s another Montreal based side-project, one that has been going on for more than a decade like A Silver Mt. Zion or Set Fire To Flames. But since the announcement GY!BE will be re-forming, and new material on its way, somehow it’s getting too difficult to listen to even other distractions from what most would dub the greatest post-rock band of the genre. Just as all those side-projects show another side of post-rock, or one could say GY!BE, Esmerine’s minimalist classical instrumentation has been a staple for the group since the debut of If Only Sweet Surrender of the Nights to Come True. La LeChuza plays much like their previous works do, the absence of the guitar, something that enthralls many post-rock enthusiasts is completely absent. Instead the group has always set out to create cello and percussion driven tracks that murmur to the ears. The tranquility these tracks offer are consistent through the entire affair, something you’d be hard-pressed to find in many of this genre unless the music moves to a complete silence or standstill.
Would it be wrong to categorize Esmerine as a tired post-rock listener’s band? Probably not, because of the lack of any climatic soft-loud shifts on La LeChuza, except for “Little Streams Make Big Rivers,” the group are technicality suppressed by their minimalism, a oddity in what seems to be more ostentatious workings of other post-rock bands. Esmerine still stick to their same stripped-down version of post-rock, where the cello starts simply and remains that way throughout the album. It may lack the modern sensibility of present groups in the genre, but for a group that feeds off of a classical style it only re-affirms the calmness in La LeChuza. The act does get tiresome after awhile.
Each track proceeds to move to the other without any clear resonance, an album that must be heard in its entirety to actually understand its aim. That is the underlining problem on La LeChuza, the absence of immediate impact. “Trampolin” may be lighthearted with the xylophone leading the charge, but much of the album lacks any strength. Past albums garnered off the listener’s senses – “Quelques Mots Pleins d'Ombre”, “Histories Repeating as One Thousand Hearts Mend”, and “The Marvellous Engines of Resistance” all were endowed with such conviction of what they were. La LeChuza sounds as if its trialing has been lost in mist. A few tracks are noteworthy, they still layer their tracks via simplest means, but it still falls flat in many instances. The deficiency of any uprising is disturbing, the plight that post-rock groups must attempt now to garner some excitement more so. Ultimately though that is where Esmerine fails – unlike its previous 2 albums – it still holds something new for those looking for more classical formed post-rock, but most will fall asleep by album’s end.
The type of mood of past albums weren’t nearly as soothing as La LeChuza, it still does sound like it’s missing a lot in the whole process. Their last album, Aurora, evoked grief through its strings, yet La LeChuza gives nothing of substance in its place. “Little Streams Make Big Rivers” is carried by the percussion and lifts the track step by step, yet most of the album is devoid of its splendor in its entirety. Added vocals are a surprise and change the direction of the album in many respects, even the inclusion of the late Lhasa de Sela can’t seem to push through for the band. Esmerine’s latest lacks any form of interest their previous albums demanded a listen for. It remains to be uneventful for a large period of time and it is unfortunate bearing in mind their earlier albums weren’t stricken with the same problem.
2. Walking Through Mist
3. Last Waltz
5. Snow Day For Lhasa
7. Little Streams Make Big Rivers
8. Au Crépuscule, Sans Laisse
9. Fish On Land
Esmerine is an experimental instrumental group started in 2003 by Bruce Cawdron and Beckie Foon, who have contributed to other Montreal-based bands as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire to Flames, and A Silver Mt. Zion.
Esmerine's music consists mainly of percussion, cello, and marimba, lacking the guitars present in other Godspeed side-projects. Esmerine's style shares many characteristics with minimalist classical music, and chamber music.
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