Rooted in a distinct and immediately identifiable sound—with the cello of Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Set Fire To Flames, Silver Mt Zion) and the marimba of ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron at its core—Esmerine has long embroidered emotive chamber works using threads of post-classical, post-rock, Minimalism, neo-Baroque, jazz, pop and a wide array of folk traditions. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson, who joined the group in 2012, has furthered Esmerine’s melodic and ethnomusicological sensibility ever since, expanding the ensemble’s palette as its third core member with guitars, ngoni, ekonting, hulusi, brass horns of all sorts, and more.
After six stately albums, Esmerine now shares Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, its first in five years. The band surprise-dropped the full album digitally on 06 May 2022, with the CD and deluxe 180gram LP editions hitting stores on official release date 26 August 2022.
Following an acclaimed run of mid-career records on Constellation through the 2010s Esmerine began working on new music at decade’s end. Under the auspices of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and a summer 2019 residency at Le Château de Monthelon in France, compositional seeds were planted before the pandemic rooted everyone in place. In between lockdown waves, at the respective rural Québec homesteads of Cawdron and Foon, longtime co-producer Jace Lasek (The Bernard Lakes) began capturing the band in various stripped-down configurations with spartan remote equipment. More fulsome arrangement and overdub sessions at Foon’s converted barn during the summer of 2021 brought the album to full fruition—where a notable increase in the use of acoustic piano also poured forth, with just about every band member having a go. The record also signals the definitive integration of bassist Philippe Charbonneau—having joined Esmerine as a touring member pre-pandemic, he plays throughout the album on upright and electric bass, with turns on piano and synth, as well as sound design contributions via tape echo and other processing.
Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More grapples with the existential tensions between atmosphere and airlessness, seclusion and claustrophobia, forbearance and coalescence. In many ways it is one of Esmerine’s most restrained records; instrumental densities ebb and flow, melding into each other with gauzy timbral warmth, sometimes tracing fleeting tendrils outwards, but always rotating around a saturnine gravitational force. Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is like a dark forest lit by a closely-orbiting opalescent planet; it could be the alternate score to Von Trier’s Melancholia or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Thanks for listening.
released September 2, 2022
Rebecca Foon - Cello, Piano
Bruce Cawdron - Marimba & Bowed Marimba, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Music Box, Drum Set, Bowed Cymbals, Percussion, Field Recordings, Marching Bass Drum, Bass Frame Drum
Brian Sanderson - Violin, Viola, Electric Guitar, Piano, Cavalry Horn, Cornet, Flugelhorn, Mellophone, Sousaphone, Hulusi, Kamel Ngoni
Philippe Charbonneau - Contrabass, Bass Guitar, Piano, Synth & Synth Drones, Tape Echo, Processing
James Hakan Dedeoğlu - Guitar on “Entropy: Radiance”, “Imaginary Pasts”
Aliayta Foon-Dancoes - Violin on “Hymn For Rob”
Olga Goreas - Flute on “Number Stations”
Jace Lasek - Guitar on “Entropy: Acquiescence”, “Imaginary Pasts”, “Number Stations”, EBow Guitar on “Entropy: The Wild Sea”
Sophie Trudeau - Violin on “Hymn For Rob”
Recorded and mixed at Lost River, Lascelles and the Rigaud Ranch, Quebec from November 2020 to April 2021.
Engineered by Jace Lasek. Mastered by Ryan Morey.
Artworks by Maciek Szczerbowski. Layout by Ian Ilavsky.
With thanks to Magda, Osha, Marty, Jane, Erin, Jericho, Ila, Reuben, Jace & Oggy, Don & Ian, Cyril, Gijs, James & Aylin, Le Château Monthelon, Lost River, Geoffrey Boulangé, Rodney Frost, Soren Venema, Teilhard, Sam, Jamie.
Esmerine is grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for its generous contribution to the recording of this album.
The phrase "Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More" was coined by author Alexei Yurchak in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, published by Princeton University Press in 2005. press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691121178/everything-was-forever-until-it-was-no-more