Esmerine was co-founded by percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland) in 2001, soon after the two met while recording the first Set Fire To Flames album Signs Reign Rebuilder. Esmerine released two critically-acclaimed albums of minimalist, expressive modern chamber music in the first half of that decade on their own Madrona Records imprint: If Only A Sweet Surrender To The Nights To Come Be True (2003) and Aurora (2005). These albums had one foot in the new music/experimental terrain of contemporaries like Rachel's or Town And Country and the other in a more visceral and lyrical instrumental landscape, as cultivated by the likes of The Dirty Three (and Godspeed themselves).
Foon parted ways with Silver Mt. Zion in 2008, Cawdron returned to the GY!BE drum chair for a couple of years (when Godspeed reunited in 2010 following a long hiatus) and Esmerine began charting a course of renewed activity and an intentionally collaborative agenda through this period, in the spirit of the annual Montréal concerts that the duo hosted throughout the 2000s, which featured diverse arrays of invited guest players. The group have released three albums to date on Constellation: La Lechuza (2011), Dalmak (2013), and Lost Voices (2015), each grounded in a specific set of collaborations that expanded the band's sonic and stylistic palette, while remaining anchored by Cawdron's mallet playing (chiefly on marimba) and Foon's expressive cello. Most recently, Esmerine has solidified into a core quintet, with Cawdron and Foon joined by percussionist Jamie Thompson (The Unicorns, Islands), multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson, and bassist Jéremi Roy.
Dalmak won the Juno Award for Instrumental Album Of The Year (2014) among other accolades, and the group released their follow-up (and third record for Constellation) Lost Voices in October 2015, once again nominated for the Instrumental Album of the Year Juno. Lost Voices is the group's most visceral and soaring work to date, with Godspeed You! Black Emperor violinist Sophie Trudeau as a featured guest, as well as extensive collaboration with Montreal's award-winning Clyde Henry Productions on the album's artwork packaging (itself also nominated for a Juno), and the stunning stop-motion animation video for opening track "The Neighbourhoods Rise".
Esmerine's fourth album on Constellation – and sixth overall – was announced in late August 2017 and released on 20 October 2017. The album is entitled Mechanics Of Dominion.