Slowly snaking their way out of a dimly lit alcove and into stifling temperatures, the tones and the atmospheres of Southern European and the tip of the Middle East charm the listener. Led by Bruce Cawdron of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and cellist Rebecca Foon of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Esmerine have expanded their sound to include a heaving contrabass and a tender violin. Stylistically, the Montreal ensemble steer Lost Voices into a much more rock-oriented place.
On the opener ‘The Neighbourhoods Rise’, energetic drums pick up the pace, and almost immediately you get the sense that Lost Voices is loaded with dynamite. Surging crescendos and minimal phrases are strewn around the boneyard. Lost Voices has a little of a post-post-rock vibe. The clean, sun-baked electric guitars and the thunderous, slowly marching drums recall a vague kind of instrumental rock. The backdrop’s a dusty, halo-bright playground where a couple of instruments wander the day’s dry sands, looking for some kind of oasis to satiate their thirst. It’s unlike anything else, and you can’t really pin the sound down into one genre. In reality, these technicalities don’t matter. The sound is the only thing that matters.
When the drums drop out, the music’s allowed the space it needs to grow and develop into its healthy adult species. A spacious terrain not dissimilar to a desert opens up before our eyes; a desert made real thanks to the sparse population. A piano sails past a trembling violin, its quavering voice troubled by a thin melancholia. ‘My Mamma Pinned A Rose On Me’ echoes a soft, downtime progression that slides around in an almost ambient way. This soft, introspective and touching track contrasts the multi-instrumental assault of ‘Funambule (deus pas de Serein)’. The bruising crescendo smashes against the steady thump-thump-thump of the percussion. At this point, the piece is rocking. It’s the post-rock equivalent to the drop of a beat in an Ibizan club. Both the penultimate and final tracks are much softer. One is a dedication to a lover, and the other is an innocent lullaby. They’re two very different dialects, but they both speak the same language of love. They can only be interpreted by someone close. The voice is recognizable; the voice is Esmerine’s.