Boston isn’t known as a major player in world music but that doesn’t mean it isn’t home to some fine bands who love to play the more complex and unconventional sounds associated with the genre. Need proof, just listen to Esthema’s latest cd The Hereness and Nowness of Things which expands on the charms of the group’s debut Apart from the Rest by tackling new ways to fuse European, Middle Eastern, and American music together.
In the past, Esthema has successfully incorporated music from the Eastern European Balkan area and the Near/Middle East with the sounds of progressive rock and jazz. The result gave the band a distinct personality as it flawlessly blended such traditional Western instruments as the guitar, bass, and drums with Eastern instruments such as the oud and bouzouki.
Now, as apparent from listening to the all-instrumental The Hereness and Nowness of Things, the five members of Esthema sound even more confident as they are willing to add folk rhythms from Eastern European dances to its songs. The tracks “Eastern Dance” and “Arrhythmia” are the best examples of this as the stringed instruments played by Andy Milas (guitar), Onur Dilisen (violin), and Tery Lemanis (oud and bouzouki) sparkle by giving off a nice groove.
While songs like these showcase the band’s willingness to add new textures to its sound, the most enjoyable stuff on this recording are the songs that are more like the stuff heard on the group’s debut. However, this time things are more complex. The opening track entitled “Change of Season” is a nine-minute epic that feels more classical in nature because of its numerous tempo changes and glorious violin and cello work. Best of all, it gives the listener an emotional experience that is dramatic and cinematic.
Another standout is “On and On” which is definitely the most accessible track on The Hereness and Nowness of Things. The first half of the song is pleasant enough with an understated violin and guitar but the second half is where Esthema lets loose with its rockier side. The most impressive aspect to it is Milas’ guitar work which is propelled beautifully by the steady rhythm section of bassist Ignacio Long and drummer Bruno Esrubilsky.
In the end, Esthema’s sophomore release should be experienced as a whole though because there is no filler here. In fact, the band shows on the cd that it is talented enough to be a player in the world music scene–and not only in Boston, but anywhere.
Author — Todd Sikorski[Rating: 3.5/5]