There are innumerable ways to address such issues, albeit limited by an instrumental palette. Without the liner notes, those who hear Mechanics of Dominion may not understand the inspiration; but they are suffering from the same symptoms: distrust of leaders, fear of war, panic over “natural disasters” (formerly “acts of God”, an even less comforting phrase). “We Are the World” seems so long ago, and so quaint.
Esmerine has consistently addressed such issues in manners subtle and overt. A high mark was reached with Dalmak, an intercontinental collaboration with Turkish musicians. On Mechanics of Dominion, the band continues to integrate a large swath of sounds (pump organ, marimba, kamel ngoni), but demonstrates great diversity within the set as well. The preview track “Piscibus Maris” + “The Space In Between” is a perfect slice of modern composition, but the bulk of the LP is post-rock mixed with chamber music, jazz and even some drone. The fact that these are the album’s bookends implies a hopeful conclusion of one shade or another. Either humankind works out its differences or not, in the latter scenario at least leaving the vegetation time to recover. The preceding timbres are energetic, hopeful, and much less volatile than one might imagine ~ as if the band had come to the conclusion that anger saps the motivation for action.
In contrast, “La Lucha Es Una Sola” (“The Struggle Is Solitary”) stretches slowly from glockenspiel and drone (reminiscent of church bells and chants, reflecting the ancient mind) to the pace of a meandering horse before exploding into an industrial revolution. Is Esmerine retelling the history of the world? This song too loops back, as if saying, remember. From this point forward, the LP begins to increase in tempo, imperceivable at first, but finally obvious ~ a gradual quickening that reflects the exponential growth of populaces and damages. “Mechanics of Dominion” runs so fast that it cannot stop without risking a tumble: reflection replaced by reaction, progress by velocity, a headlong rush to destruction.
But throughout the set, there is such beauty ~ and in “La Plume Des Armes” (“Feather Weapon”) even playfulness. Is this how we are supposed to respond to crisis? Esmerine seems to be saying yes, even with the sword of Damocles dangling over one’s head, don’t forget what makes life worth living. For if we do, all is lost. (Richard Allen)