- January 20, 2004
Just about the time I had completely warmed up to Cyann & Ben's Spring, I got a hold of Espers. Not only the tone of both records, but the simple coincidence of it was really eerie.
If you've yet to hear Spring, I highly suggest it. But what took me an entire month and about five separate times to realize as a magnificent piece of music, took me about thirty seconds to realize with Espers' self titled debut. They instantly clicked into one, both containing the same distinctive aura of mystery. Oh, they're different enough, but the literary ‘tone' is a photocopy. Both revel in this dense, dark, outer space atmosphere, while still using minimal, psych-folk arrangements. The slow, climatic journeys of Spring took too long for me to register, but with Espers' more straightforward presentation, I was instantly hooked. Espers is completely accessible, where Spring took hours of dissection.
As opposed to the dark confines of outer space, Espers paint a world permanently frozen in twilight. And the image so perfectly introduced on the cover art is felt throughout "Flowery Noontide", and the whole album at that. The slowly growing and sprawling vines twisting and curling amongst themselves tangle into a beautiful brush. Completely percussion-less, twanging guitars and powerful synth propel each song. Strange enough, not only does Espers make use of both male and female vocals, both bands are members of Locust Records. The combination of folk melancholy and sonic tones with the vocal harmonies creates their distinct style and voice.
Even better, "Riding" is lyrical genius. "We've been finding in sight/what we knew to be right/since the day we were born," and then later, "we'll describe and dissect/every secret effect/that you made behind doors." Those lyrics just put me in awe. Then the albums only climax, "Byss & Abyss"'s beautiful flute and haunting vocals signal the formation of dark clouds slowly building in the sky. And when harsh sonic waves weigh the melody down, and the low whistle of wind pushes in, the song slowly and shapelessly warps into a new melody of curiosity. The following track "Daughter" feels the most like a folk song, smiling with every violin and vocal rise.
What's so stunning is that somehow, Espers creates some supernatural atmosphere that is mystifyingly calming and eerily uneasy in equal proportions.
- Andrew Wexler
- Flowery Noontide
- Hearts & Daggers
- Byss & Abyss
- Travel Mountains