Following the release of what was arguably their finest work yet, 2017’s Mechanics of Dominion, things went rather quiet for Canadian neo-classical world builders, Esmerine.
Since Mechanics of Dominion, band co-founder, Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt Zion, Saltland, Set Fire To Flames) has unveiled her own slices of splendour, most notably with her fantastic 2020 release, Waxing Moon; however, there had been no murmurs of new Esmerine material forthcoming.
Like Duster dropping their Together LP out of the sky, Esmerine (Foon; percussionist, Bruce Cawdron, once of Godpseed You! Black Emperor; percussionist, Jamie Thompson of The Unicorns and Islands; multi-instrumentalist, Brian Sanderson; and bassist, Jéremi Roy) have inadvertently followed suite with their latest collection of bliss, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More.
Echoing a similar title to Sea Power’s Everything Was Forever (coincidently, Foon featured on the band’s 2008 opus, Do You Like Rock Music?), Esmerine take such sentiments to their ultimate conclusion, with sounds to match the emotional weight the title deserves.
While Mechanics of Dominion saw Esmerine, at times, comb the end-of- world terrains of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is a more tender follow-up, the band unfurling a series of majestically arranged hushed oddities, preserving their reputation as a true poignant force.
Blackout is like the rain dripping on the window pane. Cloaked in orchestral heaviness, it sets the mood for Entropy: Incantation – Radiance – The Wild Sea and Entropy: Acquiescence. While perhaps influenced by traditional GY!BE song titles, these movements are far more delicate than anything their fellow Canadians have put to tape. With a cinematic sun-over-the-horizon snapshot of sound, it’s the kind of passage where superlatives aren’t nearly enough. Just listen.
With a gentle piano that is like rain falling from the sky in slow motion, Hymn for Rob is a tear-jerking waltz that reaches the cathedral ceiling. Then there’s Imagery Pasts, which feels like a seamless continuation, like the two pieces are connected; not specifically through Esmerine’s gracious noise, but purely through feeling.
Fractals For Any Tonality captures the triumphant vibe that Esmerine’s label mates, Do Make Say Think, have always made of habit out of, but here Foon’s beautiful textures and nuance make it unmistakably Esmerine. And this continues on Foxtails & Fireflies: a short fantastical harmony which has you reminiscing of the past
Wakesleep takes its cue from Blackout, but is enveloped in cinematic lustre. Esmerine a ripe for a film score and the evidence is right here.
On closing piece, Number Stations, Esmerine showcase their artistic range with a composition that could be considered the outlier from Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More. Drafting in their influences of the past with post-apocalyptic thrums and eerie chiming riffs, in many ways the piece is a celebration of the band’s past and present.
Post-rock, neo-classical, experimental, whatever genre or sub-genre you wish to file it under, it makes no difference. Good records are good records and, whichever way you slice it, Esmerine’s return is not only needed, it’s one of the beautiful surprises of the year.
The more time spent with Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, the stronger it will get. With this record, Esmerine may just be the masters of the slow burn.
Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is out now via Constellation. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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