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Espers - II CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.95 | 38 ratings

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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.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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