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Esthesis: The Awakening

The Awakening is the first full length CD from French progressive/alternative band Esthesis. According to the bands bio the focus of the music is on “emotion and ambiences”. The 16+ minute “Downstream” opens the CD, a simple haunting piano melody serves as the foundation as the band adds various textures to set the mood. The song takes its time unfolding, with soft airy vocals, and mellotron, creating a cinematic soundscape that will bring to mind Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. I have to admit to being caught off guard during a short section where lead singer Aurelien Goude whistles, something you don’t hear often (thankfully), but it works within the context of the song. Everything is torn down only to build back up to a dramatic conclusion with keyboards that wrap themselves around the heavy guitar as the band drives the song home. Having listened multiple times, the band lays all their cards on the table here, if someone were to ask me about the band, this is the track I would recommend.

“No Soul to Sell” takes more than a few pages out of Porcupine Trees playbook. “High Tide” opens with synths, and a light touch of piano, here again Esthesis prove they are never in a hurry; wringing every ounce of music they can out of each idea. The closing two and a half minutes allow guitarist Baptiste Desmares to shine and the band kicks up the tempo. “Chameleon” offers a change of pace as an acoustic guitar is upfront, and has a pop sensibility. I love the bands use of lap steel, which is present here and in a number of other songs. Upon repeated listens, there is a lack of presence and character in the lead vocals, Goude has a pleasant voice, but it seems overly reserved. Reserved also comes to mind in the soloing, both guitars and keyboards seem restrained to me, I think more contrast and greater dynamic range would accentuate the mellower moments.

I really like the instrumental title track, to me it is what the band does best, create a simple motif and atmosphere, and allow it to build. The cover artwork, a stark blue and black sky with just a bit of light cast over a distant house evokes the feel of the music. I can see sections of this music being used in soundtracks, it has that feel. I look forward to hearing more from Esthesis as they mature, but they have released a very good debut.

Track List:

  1. Downstream (16:31)
  2. No Soul To Sell (8:34)
  3. High Tide (10:35)
  4. Chameleon (8:06)
  5. The Awakening (6:26)
  6. Still Far To Go (9:29)

Added: May 4th 2021
Reviewer: Eric Porter
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 570
Language: english

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