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Esthema: Long Goodbye

Esthema have released their 3rd CD entitled Long Goodbye. This instrumental release includes the following musicians and instrumentation: Mac Ritchey (oud and bouzouki), Andy Milas (guitar), George Lernis (drums & percussion), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Onur Dilisen (violin), and Tom Martin (bass).

I did something I try to not do before writing a review; read the press release info. The phrase "world fusion ensemble" is used. The term "world music" may send some people running away or may bring them closer; it's kind of loaded. In this case, that term alludes to choices of instrumentation, scales, and rhythm. Upon first listen I imagined progressive metal without distorted guitar or keyboards because there are some unusual time signatures, tempo changes, and multi-part compositions - all frequent components of progressive metal. With a second listen I noticed classical-sounding symphonic arrangements and melodies. There are "fusion" moments where a solo is traded between different instruments within a piece which is a jazz component.

There are many strong melodies on Long Goodbye and all I could think of to describe these is the word "emotional." They are sweet, heart-felt, almost romantic - emotional. The compositions and arrangements are so well done it's something that really needs to be heard; once you hear I know you'll understand.

The fact that I personally can't really discern between an oud and a bouzouki doesn't dull the experience. The interplay between violin, cello, oud/bouzouki provides a warm, encompassing feel; symphonic in the way Yes and Genesis are described as "symphonic progressive rock." The mixing is almost perfect; you can hear the rolls on the ride cymbal and the thickness of the bass and everything in-between. I actually dialed down the bass when I was listening to this in my car in order to hear more of the other instruments.

"Fire and Shadow" contains one example of the lush, emotional harmonies brought together by the cello, violin and oud/bouzouki. "Reflections From the Past" contains musical influences brought to the band from the backgrounds of the band members; Cyprus, Palestine, Turkey, etc…

"Without A Moment's Notice" features some of the greatest rhythmic challenges on Long Goodbye, and the "progressive rock" influence is obvious and welcome. The ensemble playing on this track makes it one of the best of the CD. The opening trio "Three Sides to Every Story" is a great way to begin as the exotic melodic line in Part I which is repeated in Part III sets the tone for what is yet to come.

Long Goodbye could be played at a cocktail party, on your headphones, or anywhere in between. Multiple listens yield multiple experiences as there is plenty to digest but not laboriously so. This is a terrific CD by extremely talented musicians and the compositions are deep and wide with awesome performances.

Track Listing
1. Three Sides to Every Story Pt. 1 2:01
2. Three Sides to Every Story Pt. 2 8:21
3. Three Sides to Every Story Pt. 3 3:19
4. Fire and Shadow 6:49
5. Reflections from the Past 9:07
6. Without a Moment's Notice 9:22
7. Reminiscence 4:22
8. Long Goodbye 11:41

Added: June 24th 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2247
Language: english

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