(2018 - self released - USA)
Ripe with traditional folk and fusion from various eastern and Balkan regions, Esthema, a 5 piece world explorer outfit, mix in touches of progressive rock and jazz elements, for a truly spherical album. Their sound is radiant and well composed. This is the groups 4th release (the cover art shows 4 slashes to represent this, in a long forgotten primitive form), of alternating gentle exotic pieces with stimulating ascending passages, all done with great pathos.
Their sound is comparable to some old and new bands of the world music world. The older music lovers may remember ethnic fusion bands like Ancient Future, Doa (who later changed their name to Doa'h, due to the 'dead on arrival' confusion), Oregon, Tri Atma (before they became an electric ethno-fusion band), and incredible world music groups from around the world like Flairck, from The Netherlands (when they began to stretch out with various cross culture music ), and Babia from Spain (who featured Luis Delgado). So parallels are there, but Esthema carry on with new music and keep the bright flame alive for inventive world fusion. One can hear a great many unique and original combinations with their music. It is important to mention that they do not use synthesizers, and anything you hear suggesting the electronic nature of one, is done by an acoustic/electric oud. The band keeps the emphasis on acoustic.
While Esthema have had a couple of line up changes over the years, the credits for this fourth album are : Andy Milas (guitars) , Onur Dilisen, originally from Turkey (violins), Mac Ritchey (oud, bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass), and George Lernis (drums, percussion). I have posted a couple of You Tube links at top, so you can listen to two different dynamics of this outfit. Some songs such as 'Successive Waves' (track 5 - 12:42) give you an introduction of delicate beauty, then move to a haunting elegance, wet with mystery, then into an uptempo jazz fusion. Very powerful.
'IV' is full of Esthema's skills with interesting, and at times arresting fluctuations. Operating exactly like a chamber band, the precision of performance is key, and the ability to instantly move from butterfly-like gentleness to rigorous interplay, and unite the elementary with the complex, is outstanding. Also the music has an intimate feel and fearless quality all at once. These Boston based guys are world class experienced musicians and terrific composers. The physical CD is a 6 panel glossy digipak beauty, with extra pictures inside. RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4 - 6 -2019