Record Label: Constellation
LP is pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a thick 24pt. jacket and audiophile black paper polylined dust sleeve, with a set of five 12"x12" art prints (pictured below) printed on uncoated archival 100lb text paper and a download code for 320kbps MP3 of the album audio. Artwork by Jean-Sébastien Denis from the Imbrications series.
Esmerine is the modern chamber ensemble co-founded by former Silver Mt. Zion member Rebecca Foon and Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumnus Bruce Cawdron in the early 2000s, composing two beloved albums of post-rock based around cello and mallet instruments on Madrona Records in 2003 and 2005. The group emerged from a semi-hiatus in 2010 and have made four acclaimed full-length records of uniquely emotive, lyrical, exploratory instrumental music since then (all released by Constellation) – each marked by a distinct collaborative and thematic agenda.
Following the Turkish/near-Eastern exchange featured on Dalmak (2014 Juno winner for Instrumental Album Of The Year) and the intense, rock-inflected Lost Voices (2016 Juno winner for Album Package Of The Year and finalist for Instrumental Album), Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary "Freelancer on the Front Lines" (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings from the band's aforementioned early years. Sessions for the film soundtrack kept rolling organically throughout 2016-2017 (alongside Foon's own work on her Saltland solo project, whose second album came out in March 2017), informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination, falsifying propaganda and ever-accelerating degradation and denial of nature and social justice.
Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-informed work, tracing an arc through Neo-Classical, Minimalist, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Baroque, Jazz and Rock idioms to invoke lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is a requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world, and to modern human frailty and ingenuity.
Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion brings mallet instruments to the fore, with marimba, glockenspiel, piano and amplified music box providing a prominent foundation and through-line on the album's diverse tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's contributions are also an ever greater part of Esmerine's songwriting – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are formidable elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this song cycle.
Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative iteration in Esmerine's dedication to artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montréal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis to beautifully echo the album's compositional balance of abstraction, tension and emotional colourations.