Esmerine is the modern chamber ensemble co-founded by cellist Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Silver Mt Zion) and percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Following their previous album Lost Voices (2016 Juno nominee for Instrumental Album and winner for Album Packaging), Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for an NFB documentary about independent journalism in the Middle East. Those sessions kept rolling throughout 2016-2017, informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination and our ever-accelerating degradation/denial of nature. Mechanics Of Dominion is Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-informed work, tracing an arc through Neo-Classical, Minimalist, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Baroque, Jazz and Rock idioms to invoke lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is a requiem for our intractably complex and suffering planet and a paean to the imperative wisdom of indigenous ethics. Stylistically, the album brings mallet instruments to the fore: marimba, glockenspiel and piano are a prominent through-line on the album's diverse tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings also provide formidable elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this song cycle. MontrÃ©al visual artist Jean-Sebastien Denis provides brilliant abstract compositions for the album's deluxe artwork and packaging.
MontrÃ©al chamber rock ensemble Esmerine return with the new full-length album Lost Voices, the most dynamic and incendiary record of the group's career, following its highly-acclaimed and Juno award-winning 2013 release Dalmak. Led by co-founders Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) on various mallet instruments and Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland) on cello, Esmerine also includes drummer/percussionist Jamie Thompson (The Unicorns, Islands, Little Scream) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson.
Lost Voices can fairly be called Esmerine's "rock" album, expanding upon the band's celebrated prowess at deploying structure and dynamic, balancing melodic expression against methodical restraint through a diversity of stylistic touchstones while allowing for explosive crescendos of exuberant density and maximalism that most notably distinguishes this record from previous work.
Lost Voices is a deeply satisfying and evocative journey and another brilliant iteration of Esmerine's distinctive instrumental chamber rock; cerebral and visceral, controlled and volatile, and wholly cinematic in scope throughout.
When Esmerine surfaced with La Lechuza in 2011, the album signaled many things: the band's first new recordings in six years, an expanded line-up, and a song cycle inspired by and dedicated to the life and untimely death of a dear friend and fellow musician.
Esmerine's new album Dalmak emphatically confirms that the group has continued writing, exploring and collaborating. Bruce Cawdron (ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire To Flames), brought in percussionist Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson as full-time members.
European tours in 2011-2012 brought Esmerine to Istanbul, and Dalmak is the fruit of that visit: the majority of the album was recorded in Istanbul, where the band's four Canadian musicians were joined by an equal number of Turkish guest players.
“Dalmak” is a Turkish verb with many connotations: to contemplate, to be absorbed in, to dive into, to bathe in, to rush into, to plummet. As album title, “dalmak” refers in a literal sense to immersion in the culture and music of Istanbul but also appropriately evokes the range of music that emerged: a collection of songs that shift between meditative pulsing and enveloping restraint to headlong flights into rhythm and groove.
Co-founded ten years ago by percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion), Esmerine enters its second decade with a new album and an expanded line-up: harp-player Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Barr. La Lechuza documents the evolution of Esmerine under the influence of this expanded membership, and is dedicated to beloved and internationally-renowned Montreal-based singer Lhasa de Sela, who died on New Year's Day 2010 at the age of 37 (all four of the Esmerine players were part of Lhasa’s studio band for the recording of her final album). Guests include Colin Stetson (Tom Waits, Bon Iver, TV On The Radio) and Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire, Belle Orchestre).
La Lechuza was shaped by another important collaborator, and a dear friend of Lhasa's: Patrick Watson, who recorded much of La Lechuza at his home studio in Montreal and who sings and plays piano on the album's centerpiece track "Snow Day For Lhasa".
La Lechuza ends on a special note, with a previously unreleased version of "Fish On Land" by Lhasa herself, with Bruce and Beckie (on marimba and cello respectively).
Most of the record was mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcarde Fire, The Unicorns).