Percussion and cello and harp, oh my.
It has been six years since the release of Esmerine's last album and on this record, percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Beckie Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion) are joined by harpist Sarah Page and percussionist Andrew Barr. The difference here, from say Godspeed's releases is there is no guitar, Esmerine's sound is more minimal and is reminiscent of chamber music rather than the huge post-rock walls of noise that you would associate with Godspeed.
This really is a beautiful album; the cello and harp bring a melancholic atmosphere and the sensitive percussion along with dreamy vocals on some tracks add to the gentle fairy tale-like mood. 'Last Waltz' is very evocative, making you imagine cinematic moments that haven't been written yet. As does the sublime yet playful 'Trampolin' and 'Snow Day For Lhasa' tugs at you so fiercely it may induce, at the very least, shivers, if not tears.
'Au Crepuscule, Sans Laisse' mixes slowly plucked harp with drawn out notes from the cello, occasionally there are snatches of percussion from the background but these are so unobtrusive you almost feel that you've imagined them, lovely. The closing track features sweetly husky vocals from Lhasa de Sela, who passed away in 2010 and whom the album is dedicated to. This track was recorded in 2009 and the circumstances of its place on this record make it all the more poignant and moving.
A beautiful and understated record, but one that is full of emotionally powerful tracks. Like a poem of sound, not a note is out of place, some moments use just one or two instruments but it's enough to fill the room. When the full arsenal is used, opener 'A Dog River' for example, where horns, violin and full percussion join in the result is an intense and densely layered experience. Highly recommended.