[Album Review] Esmerine- Mechanics of Dominion
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Release Date: October 20th, 2017
Label: Constellation Records

In 2015 we spoke of ‘Lost Voices’ as being similar but contrasting to Godspeed You! Black Emperor (of which Esmerine is something of an offshoot). That contrast is even sharper on their 2017 release.

On ‘Mechanics of Dominion’ Esmerine are both more ethereal and worldly at the same time. As to the latter reference, they incorporate a host of global sounds, from alpine glockenspiel to eastern-influenced strings. As to the first, Esmerine divorce themselves even further from the visceral, metal sound of GYBE’s sonorous rumble. Their instrumentation is acoustic-leaning, almost classical, although not entirely non-electric. But they do indeed follow that ebb and flow of heavy drama so common to post-rock outfits such as GYBE, however the heaviest moments are covered not by electric guitar or bass but with the likes of pump organ and brass horn.

Of course, the other thing ‘Mechanics of Dominion’ shares with its post-rock peers is the richness of texture and the intricacies of composition. “Northeast Kingdom” is a prime example as it centres around a lonely piano that may fade at times but never relents. After a mournful opening, the piano becomes peppered with moments of inharmoniousness, a trend taken up by the increasingly present strings, lending an air of dread. An odd brass/vocal sound breaks in like a gentle breeze before more instruments are introduced that dance around the piano’s basic lead but never quite join in. At the midway point a vibrating hum takes over as the main music fades — a hum that brings a renewed sense of purpose. But eventually it gives way to ambience as the piano slowly but surely gives up its tune.

Elsewhere an Eno-esque ambient piece break out into a tumult of jazz-rock mayhem on “Que Se Vayan Todos” but without electric guitars, while the title track has such flights of fancy that it would put shame to a prog-rocker with a glam streak. Esmerine use their vocals sparingly  but when they bring them to bear they put them to good use, such as the heavenly performance at the closing of “La Penombre”. The heights they hit are remarkable, both dramatically and spiritually, and frankly superior to the vast majority of their more metal-oriented kin.