Montreal-based chamber rock ensemble Esmerine contains former members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion, and their music mixes acoustic instruments with experimental methods, with more credits for strings, horns, percussion, and electronics than guitars. Their Juno-winning 2013 album Dalmak was recorded in Istanbul with several Turkish musicians guesting, and they've continued incorporating traditional instruments on their subsequent efforts. Brian Sanderson, who joined in 2011, plays instruments such as the hulusi (an Asian gourd flute) and the kamel n'goni (a West African guitar-like stringed instrument) on Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, the group's seventh album. "Entropy," a multi-part suite near the beginning of the record, features stirring flutes and sorrowful strings, leading into the type of triumphant procession one might expect from Constellation's stable of post-rock acts. "Imaginary Pasts" is the centerpiece, building up a pounding drum rhythm from a meditative drone, then adding strings, guitars, and woozy synths, turning it into a gently psychedelic epic, and switching up with a jazzy acoustic bassline. Several shorter pieces contain more suspenseful melodies ("Wakesleep" would be perfect as a soundtrack for a key scene in a horror/sci-fi series), with "Foxtailes & Fireflies" being a more sonically daring mixture of subtly glitchy electronic effects and chirping insects. "Number Stations" also uses field recordings, blending rainfall and creaking static with shimmering percussion (but no Conet Project-type samples), then eventually gaining a crawling rhythm, and ending up much cozier than the title suggests. The entire album is a fluid, expressive stream that becomes slightly tense or brazen during its most emotional moments, but maintains a similar sense of elegance and mystery throughout.
Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More Review
by Paul Simpson