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Espers

Prog Folk


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Espers II album cover
3.87 | 33 ratings | 3 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1- "Dead Queen" - 8:13
2- "Widow's Weed" - 6:51
3- "Cruel Storm" - 5:17
4- "Children of Stone" - 8:54
5- "Mansfield and Cyclops" - 5:57
6- "Dead King" - 8:02
7- "Moon Occults the Sun" - 6:47



Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Meg Baird / vox, ac/el/bowed guitars, dulcimer
Brook Sietinsons / ac/6/12 string guitars, finger cymbals, chimes, harmonica
Greg Weeks / vox, e, guitar, acid leads, dulcimer,autoharp, bass, violin, chimes


additional musicians include:

Espvall
Hauser
Smith

Releases information

Drag City Records WEBB110CD

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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Buy ESPERS II Music


EspersEspers
Locust 2004
Audio CD$40.62
$4.99 (used)
IIII
Drag City 2006
Audio CD$59.67
$7.49 (used)
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Drag City 2009
Audio CD$12.57
$1.62 (used)
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Locust 2005
Audio CD$67.44 (used)
II by Espers (2006) Audio CDII by Espers (2006) Audio CD
Drag City
Audio CD$115.24
$18.18 (used)
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More places to buy ESPERS music online Buy ESPERS & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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ESPERS II ratings distribution


3.87
(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
19%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
48%
Good, but non-essential (19%)
19%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ESPERS II reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Second "real" album (not counting the cover album called the Weed Tree), the group took quite a while to finish up this album. By now, the group has become a sextet (including a drummer) and presented a fuller sound, but II is an unmistakeable worthy follow- up to the debut album, released three years ago. Released on a different label (Wichita), the album sports yet another superb paisley artwork (dark brown this time), housed in a digipack. Aside the irritating fashion of the 00's to give as little useful infos on the music and the group (an attitude dominating the whole Post Rock movement, but contaminating others as Wyrd Folk) thus maintaining a phoney mystery around the groups, II is a an excellent album and would be perfect one, if it had mentioned a full line- up and their instruments. All the more irritating is that we see their faces, are given their family names, but don't know the first names or who does what.

If Dead Queen could've fitted well with the first album, with Widow's Weed, the group jumps in full stride of their new possibilities, using drums (not done on their debut), but this is not really affecting their overall sound even if there are solid differences. While more electric (compared with their debut album), the music remains mainly acoustic, most tracks are ranging between 6 to 8 minutes, which always allows for enough time to expand on their ideas, but I must say that some tracks tends to overstay their welcome (the never-ending Children Of Stone, for example) partly because of the repetitive nature of the tracks. The enchantment of the debut album (due in great part to those delicate and delicious guitar arpeggios) is duplicated here, maybe a little too much despite the differences; and this could almost be a carbon copy of their debut. Again like the debut, the album glides smoothly on their delicate textures, with every songs being fairly even and uniform, none are sticking out of the sonic spectrum installed right from the first seconds of the album until its last breaths. Very slightly different is the closing Moon Occults the Sun (why didn't they call it Eclipse), where the mood seems to be on the rise for the last few minutes.

This second album is more successful than the debut, partly on the experience factor and slightly better songwriting, but unfortunately it sticks too close to its blueprint, and therefore losing in inspiration what it had gained on quality. Yet another superb album that must be heard by all progheads with folk/medieval sensibilities, but if I can suggest you to get only one of the two albums, it would save you some dough, for the other (the one you didn't choose first) will only taste and sound the same.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#132393) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 09, 2007

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is pretty original stuff in case anyone is paying attention. When I reviewed their self-titled debut I said that if the core duo of psych-fuzzmeister Greg Weeks and folk-nymph Meg Baird could stay together, they would create something amazing at some point. Well they did stay together – sort of.

Espers II, according to Weeks, is actually a reincarnation of what was once Espers. Okay, whatever – seems a bit contrived to me. But there is some truth to the whole rebirth concept. What was officially a trio with several guest musicians in 2002 has become – well, a trio with several guest musicians in 2006. But it appears the separation between the two halves is gone. The sextet that performs on this album comes across as a single, contiguous unit. And the net result is another breathy and adventurous and intoxicating musical experience, only one that has an even richer breadth of sounds than the first album.

Even though the liner notes only identify the players by their last names and pictures, it doesn’t take much effort to discover the cellist here is Helena Espvall, who has also appeared on duet releases with Meg Baird, and has performed live with Espers and with Weeks’ solo side project. This album includes drums (unlike the debut where the tempo was kept thanks mostly to finger cymbals and dulcimer) and although their presence is barely felt, Devendra Banhart drummer Otto Hauser adds to a growing sense of a new musical twist from Espers that blends early folk-inspired psych with the complexity and patience of post-rock. A Silver Mt. Zion came close to this but with a harder, often angry edge; and Ozric Tentacles dabbled here as well although steeped deeply in the psych side of the equation. With Espers there is a sense of balance that yields a net result of getting the listener inside of themselves, while in the end leaving you feeling pretty good about life and the world around you in a realistic but not fatalistic way. A true talent.

“Children Of Stone” is the trippiest and longest track here, an unhurried wander through mild fuzz guitar and a variety of eclectic and mostly uncredited instruments like the doumbek, dholak, chimes, and dulcimer; and the more mundane but still folksy 6-string acoustic guitars and soft snare drums.

On the more psych end of the spectrum, “Mansfield and Cyclops” features both drums and fuzz prominently, as well as a very striking and eerie picked sound that I believe is an autoharp. With an instrument like that you have two ways to go: folksy, or pretentious. These guys manage to avoid sounding pretentious, so they must be the real deal.

I really can’t say enough about this album. The compositions are all remarkably unhurried, rich in acoustic sounds, percussion and loose, meandering tempos. Meg Baird has a voice that seems to both channel Sandy Denny and extend the capabilities of more mainstream vocalists like Shawn Colvin.

Best track? Hard to say, but the drawn-out and spacey “Dead King” is a top pick with lots of hard-to-identify percussion, Baird’s lazy vocals, and a tempo that doesn’t put you to sleep but sure gets you feeling laid back in a hurry. “Widow's Weed” is another top offering with some exquisite acoustic guitar and a very Mt Zion-like dissonant cello/violin combination.

An outstanding follow-up to the band’s 2002 debut, Espers II shows growth and progression in both the range of sounds and complexity of the arrangements. What hasn’t changed are the things that work: Baird and Weeks’ complementary folk vs. psych styles, Baird’s luscious vocals, and the liberal sprinkling of exotic and inspiring instrumentation. A seriously excellent album, and very highly recommended.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#138348) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007

Review by JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As soon as I heard the first few moments of this album's opening track, ''Dead Queen'', I knew I was in for a treat. My, how impressed I am with this ghostly, haunting masterpiece. Such beauty is achieved, yet through very unconventional means. Sometimes they sound like Barret-era Floyd's craziest moments, other times, they sound like something completely original, but they always, always manage to engage me with every turn they take.

The acoustic guitar work is the first thing that jumped out at me. Not only is the skill impressive, but the overall production gives it a very 'dark' tone that could give you chills. The singing of Meg Baird is celtic and haunting, yet lovely and melodious. The songs have a very studio-heavy, layered sound, yet that shouldn't be an issue for you. Yes, it isn't the type of 'folk' music that can be 100% reproduced live without some heavy electronics at work, but the result is fantastic, regardless of what genre you may think Espers 'actually' are a part of. Many instrument tracks overlap each other to create a deep pool of musical intricacy for the more observant listener to uncover over the course of repeated listens. It's a treasure-trove of ideas that give the album considerable replay value. You'll be coming back to this one a few times more if you liked it even a little bit.

All of the song structures seem to be calm and well-thought out. Never do the players feel as if they have to rush or throw in over- complicated flourishes in order for the music to be enjoyable. It's this self-confident approach to their songwriting that impresses me most, I think. They seem to know exactly what this style of music calls for, and they are clearly more concerned with mood, atmosphere and melody than they are complexity or flourish.

The eclectic mixture of instruments and the uses for each of them over the course if the record help give each song its own identity in a situation where lesser songwriters may have ended up recreating the same track seven times. Yes, it's not the most diverse album you'll come across, but it is an album you'll likely come back to if you want no-nonsense, beautiful modern acoustic- electric music. It's simultaneously relaxing and disturbing, comforting and haunting. It's progressive and forward-thinking, without a doubt, and yet many conventional Prog Rock lovers may not like it if no other no reason than for its apparent simplicity. Minimalism and simplicity are two very different things in music, and I would certainly categorize this band as displaying the former.

A very nice surprise for me, since I hadn't heard a single note from this band before ordering the album. I decided to trust my fellow collaborators in this case, and I'm very happy that I did. I think I may have found a new favorite. No, it's not 'epic' or anything like that, but nor is it boring or bland. It's just Espers. It's slow-moving, melodic mood music, I suppose. But with a progressive twist. The compositions are clever and layered, and the delivery is just dynamite. I implore you to at least give this band a chance the next time you feel like buying yet another album from a more well-known artist. Take a chance. Like me, you may end up very pleased with you decision.

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Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#293726) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 07, 2010

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