Mechanics Of Dominion by EsmerineRelease date: October 20, 2017
Label: Constellation Records
Falling in love with Esmerine is easy. Their music is timeless and it always sounds fresh because when, after many years, I return to their older albums I feel I need to share them again and tell everyone how good they are. This morning Mechanics Of Dominion is all over my room, dancing with the autumn foliage I can see through the window and with the steam of the freshly brewed coffee. Listening to it is like being reunited with an old friend because Esmerine’s style is a music genre of itself and they are the only ones able to deliver such a wide range of styles, from minimalist cello touches to explosive crescendos to elements of post rock and Turkish folk (please listen to Dalmak if you haven’t yet), with a fine combination of quiet and noisy moments to create a very unique style.
This soaring quality is the staple sound of Esmerine.
Esmerine is a Canadian modern chamber music group and probably the most interesting ensemble out of all the many Godspeed You! Black Emperor side projects. They debuted in the early 2000s but they became consistently active in the last decade with the release of great albums such as Dalmak and Lost Voices.
Mechanics Of Dominion is their new album they are releasing again with the Montreal-based label Constellation Records and it comes from their commission to provide a soundtrack for the National Film Board documentary “Freelancer on the Front Lines” by Santiago Bertolino about independent journalism in the Middle East to reveal the complex realities of a freelance journalist in a warzone and collects also previously unreleased recordings mixed with new melodies.
The outcome is more than an 8 tracks studio album: the notes of Mechanics Of Dominion talk about the hustle of the world and the suffering of the entire planet, lament the threats of the wars and the human moral weakness. The theme is superbly expressed using several instruments – from glockenspiel to piano – thanks also the work of the multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson’s. The music flows through the diverse tracks of the album shaping a solid album that offers moments of melancholy but also hope and engages the listener whose attitude towards the world that surrounds him sits at center of the stage.
‘The Space In Between’ bridges the time and space from the release of Lost Voices and sets the album mood with a melancholic atmosphere with an underlying beauty that wraps the listeners from the very beginning. It’s the same melancholy that permeates ‘La Lucha Es Una Sola’ that starts slowly with a peaceful sound of a glockenspiel that soon becomes drone, it gets dark and solemn and creates that tension and anxiety as if something terrible is about to happen. Is the world collapsing? Is there any chance to save it?
There so much beauty and relief in the notes of ‘La Plume Des Armes’ that one cannot help but be drawn in and enveloped. This song is the light that makes us hope in a better world and longing for it because, despite everything, this life and this world are worth living.
The title track ‘Mechanics of Dominion’ is the album’s defining moment: it’s the most dynamic and intense song where they bring all the instruments to the fore. Listening to it and knowing the social commitment that inspired the album is like looking at the evolution of the world through a black and white Polaroid. The work in the global economy, the state of the environment, the interactions and collisions between industry and nature, the industrial revolution are all there: the slow decline of the world doesn’t look so slow from this perspective. The sand mandala is finally destroyed with the sound of ‘Northeast Kingdom’: Esmerine transmit positive energies to the environment and to the people but they remind also that nothing is permanent.
Mechanics of Dominion is a marvellous release and when it gets you with its overwhelming concept and brilliant execution you can’t help but play it again.