Mechanics Of Dominion
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MECHANICS OF DOMINION

     
Reviews
“Just as there are certain novels that, read too intensely, make you feel that you are also in a novel, and that every movement you make is being recalled somewhere in narrative form, there are records that impute meaning into minute corners of your existence. Mechanics of Dominion is the soundtrack to a slow, elegiac, softly sad imaginary film concerning man's inhumanity to man and the aftermath of ecological disaster. Esmerine, based in Montreal, and part of the city's apocalyptic post-rock scene (the group was founded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron and Thee Silver Mt. Zion cellist Rebecca Foon) are at the minimalist, neo-classical end of things. There are strings of course, laden with meaning, shimmering marimba and glockenspiel, piano-like droplets of rain, heavy with sadness. Jamie Thompson, Brian Sanderson and Jérémi Roi join Cawdron and Foon with horns, acoustic guitars, bass, contrabass, music box and violas to form a ramshackle but perfectly delicate contemporary chamber group. There is no one archive here – more the fusion of various old record collections discovered in attics. Mechanics of Dominion is careful, elegant and cerebral but it is also quietly stirring.”
The Wire

“Constellation Records continues to be on a tear, the latest Esmerine record its crown jewel, eclipsing even the latest Saltland LP from Rebecca Foon.  The themes of that album remain intact, and are amplified here: the world is in disarray, climate change is accelerating, and a rough beast continues to slouch towards Bethlehem. On Mechanics of Dominion, the band continues to integrate a large swath of sounds (pump organ, marimba, kamel ngoni), but demonstrates great diversity within the set as well. The arc of the album – some may say a circle – allows order to wrap around chaos, peace around war, truth around “post-truth”.  Throughout the set, there is such beauty. Esmerine has created a tidy world that reflects not the world as it is, but as it might be.”
A Closer Listen

“The Juno-winning Canadian chamber group’s sixth album channels the existential and environmental dread of their Montréal neighbors and labelmates Godspeed You! Black Emperor through a state of graceful introversion not unlike that of an old peer in modern chamber music, Rachel’s, from Louisville, Kentucky. Esmerine gracefully channel their future unease.”
The Line Of Best Fit • Album Of The Week

“A sequel of sorts to 2015's Lost Voices, Esmerine's latest offers a dynamic response to the dire state of the natural world we're bound to in eight crossover chamber pieces. It's a delicate, cautious demonstration, but Mechanics of Dominion is a bold, gripping and brilliantly nuanced addition to Esmerine's gorgeous catalogue, swelling with hope and brimming with energy.”
Exclaim • 9/10

“The subtlety of the melodies, and the expansive power they hold, are responsible for Esmerine’s tour de force. The way ‘The Space in Between’ is introduced, where a few simple keys can build so much emotion, also sums up the nature of Mechanics of Dominion. Minimalistic in its outlook and yet with rich instrumentation, traditional in both its inclusion of classical and folk influences and still forward-thinking and experimental. It is an act that has been standing between these worlds, bridging them together better than ever in their most potent work yet.”
Pop Matters • 8/10

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OTHER DIGITAL ALBUM LINKS:
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#2 ALBUM OF 2017 – A Closer Listen
 
Top 10 IMPROV/AVANT-GARDE ALBUMS OF 2017 – Exclaim
 
ALBUM OF THE WEEK • Line Of Best Fit
 
“Careful, elegant, cerebral and quietly stirring.” – The Wire
 
Mechanics of Dominion is a bold, gripping and brilliantly nuanced addition to Esmerine's gorgeous catalogue, swelling with hope and brimming with energy.” – Exclaim 9/10
 
“The Juno-winning Canadian chamber group’s sixth album channels existential and environmental dread through a state of graceful introversion not unlike that of an old peer in modern chamber music, Rachel’s.” – Line Of Best Fit • Album Of The Week
 
“Constellation Records continues to be on a tear, the latest Esmerine record its crown jewel. Throughout the set, there is such beauty.” – A Closer Listen
 
“Minimalistic in its outlook and yet with rich instrumentation, traditional in both its inclusion of classical and folk influences and still forward-thinking and experimental. The subtlety of the melodies, and the expansive power they hold, are responsible for Esmerine’s tour de force.” – PopMatters 8/10
 
“Esmerine don’t hold anything back on their latest album; they’re at their most intense. Their songcraft has been elevated once again. Mechanics Of Dominion is a mood-swinger, breaking through the sobering walls of tragedy and despair until it reaches a place of relief and the sunrise of a small smile.” – Fluid Radio
 
“Esmerine’s style is a music genre of itself. Mechanics of Dominion is a marvelous release and when it gets you with its overwhelming concept and brilliant execution you can’t help but play it again.” – Echoes And Dust

 
 
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Album Package Of The Year Nominee | 2018 Juno Awards

 
 
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Album Package Of The Year Nominee | 2018 Juno Awards

 
 

Esmerine is the modern chamber ensemble co-founded by former Silver Mt. Zion member Rebecca Foon and Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumnus Bruce Cawdron in the early 2000s, composing two beloved albums of post-rock based around cello and mallet instruments on Madrona Records in 2003 and 2005. The group emerged from a semi-hiatus in 2010 and have made four acclaimed full-length records of uniquely emotive, lyrical, exploratory instrumental music since then (all released by Constellation) – each marked by a distinct collaborative and thematic agenda.
 
Following the Turkish/near-Eastern exchange featured on Dalmak (2014 Juno winner for Instrumental Album Of The Year) and the intense, rock-inflected Lost Voices (2016 Juno winner for Album Package Of The Year and finalist for Instrumental Album), Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary "Freelancer on the Front Lines" (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings from the band's aforementioned early years. Sessions for the film soundtrack kept rolling organically throughout 2016-2017 (alongside Foon's own work on her Saltland solo project, whose second album came out in March 2017), informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination, falsifying propaganda and ever-accelerating degradation and denial of nature and social justice.
 
Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps 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 suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world, and to modern human frailty and ingenuity.
 
Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion brings mallet instruments to the fore, with marimba, glockenspiel, piano and amplified music box providing a prominent foundation and through-line on the album's diverse tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's contributions are also an ever greater part of Esmerine's songwriting – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are formidable elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this song cycle.
 
Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative iteration in Esmerine's dedication to artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montréal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis to beautifully echo the album's compositional balance of abstraction, tension and emotional colourations.

Packaging notes
CD comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on thick 24pt. paperboard with matte UV varnish, an artwork + credit insert and an inner sleeve the houses the disc. Artwork by Jean-Sébastien Denis from the Imbrications series.
 
LP is pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a thick 24pt. jacket and audiophile black paper polylined dust sleeve, with a set of five 12"x12" art prints (pictured below) printed on uncoated archival 100lb text paper and a download code for 320kbps MP3 of the album audio. First 500 copies also include a bonus 12"x19" art print poster. Artwork by Jean-Sébastien Denis from the Imbrications series.
 
 
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Tracklist

1. The Space In Between

2. La Lucha Es Una Sola
3. La Pénombre

4. La Plume Des Armes
5. ¡Que Se Vayan Todos!
6. Mechanics of Dominion
7. Northeast Kingdom
8. Piscibus Maris
 
Release date: 20 October 2017
Running time: 43:50
 
Credits
PERSONNEL 
Rebecca Foon: Cello, Voice, Tenor Guitar
Bruce Cawdron: Marimba / Bowed Marimba, Glockenspiel / Bowed Glockenspiel, Drums (2), Piano (7), Music Box, Pump Organ, Percussion, Field Recordings
Brian Sanderson: Piano, Violin, Pochette, Valved Cavalry Horn, Mellophone, Kamel Ngoni, Guitar, Marimba (3)
Jamie Thompson: Drums, Nord modular G2, Percussion
Jérémi Roy: Contrabass, Bass
 
GUESTS
James Hakan Dedeoglu: Guitar (5)
Sophie Trudeau: Violin (5)
Jace Lasek: Guitar (2,4,6)
Orit Fructman: Viola (7)
Christina Zacharias: Violin (7)
Chloe Myers: Violin (7)
John Dodge: Contrabass (7)
 
Recorded by Jace Lasek at Breakglass, January-April 2017
Additional recording by James Stephens at Stovepipe Studio
Edited and Mixed by Jace, Esmerine & Ian Ilavsky
Mastered by Ryan Morey
 
Album artwork by Jean-Sebastien Denis, from the series Imbrications (2017)
Artwork photography by Guy L'heureux
Design and layout by Ian Ilavsky
 
Dedicated to Shirley Louise Foon-Wiss