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.
Thanks for listening.
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
Running time: 00:43:50
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.
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.
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
GUESTSJames 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