Voted One of Indie-Music.com's Top 25 Independent Albums of 2008
Esthema: Apart from the Rest
This disc features a sharp blend of Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies with American jazz, played on oud, bouzouki, violin, bass, drums and more. Some cuts make me want to order a few beers and dance; others, sit still and nod my head, a martini in front of me. I love that there's a very in-the-moment feel with some songs, like a good jazz jam. I'll bet Coltrane and Parker would have loved this release. (http://www.indie-music.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7948)
Esthema’s music is a fusion of sounds from different cultures and genres. Elements taken from the musical traditions of the Eastern European/Balkan and Near/Middle Eastern regions are intertwined with Progressive Rock and Jazz to create the sounds of a World Fusion Ensemble. The five musicians that shape the sound of Esthema bring together both Western and Eastern instruments to form a unique blend. Bouzouki, Oud, Doumbek, and Violin color the compositions with their beautifully Eastern tone while Guitar, Bass, and Drums elicit the many Western influences that shape the sound of Esthema.
The members of Esthema bring together lifetimes of education and experience. Onur Dilisen (violin) was born, raised, and began his studies in Turkey and is currently in the Master’s violin performance program at the Boston Conservatory. Tery Lemanis (oud/bouzouki), a graduate from Berklee College of Music’s guitar performance program has studied Bouzouki, Oud, and Byzantine music in Greece as part of Berklee’s exchange program. Bruno Esrubilsky (drums/percussion), from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has studied, taught, and toured throughout Europe (Ireland, England, Portugal, Belgium, and Spain), Brazil, and the States and is currently enrolled in Berklee’s Performance and Music Business and Management programs. Ignacio Long (bass), born in Patagonia, Argentina, has studied in Buenos Aires, New York, and Boston, where he concentrated in Composition and Film Score at Berklee College of Music. Ignacio graduated in 2007. Andy Milas (guitar) has been performing traditional and contemporary Greek music for over a decade throughout New England. He has also written and arranged for Progressive Rock, Greek, New Age, and Jazz musical projects that he has been a part of. As people, the individuals in Esthema come from very different places with very different experiences. As musicians, they bring those places and experiences together into one musical setting.
Esthema’s collaboration can be experienced on their first CD, APART FROM THE REST. The six compositions that make up the CD were written by Andy Milas and arranged by the entire ensemble. Throughout, you will hear the elements of Eastern and Western music: Western Jazz improvisation and Eastern Taxims, Latin Samba and Eastern Kasilama, Western modes such as Aeolian and Phrygian and Eastern Scales/Maqams like Hijaz, Sabah, and Nihavent. All boundaries were erased in the creation of this music to allow the worlds to collide and become one. The music is a true synergy of Eastern and Western musical elements.
“This recording is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music.”
- Joel Simches, The Noise
“a seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs: Ethnic scales and meters intertwine delightfully with jazz-rock drums and bass beneath jazzy improv and winding melodies.”
- John Collinge, Progression
“Esthema has added something else to the normally staid jazz-rock sound – a heavy Eastern European influence – that makes the six instrumentals on Apart From The Rest a unique listening experience.”
- Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine
Since early spring 2007, Esthema has been performing throughout the Boston area. In September of the same year they had their first performance in New York City and since, they have expanded into new areas of New England.
With the first recording completed and available for purchase, Esthema looks forward to the future to continue performing and composing, to expand their domestic and international fan base and to release their second CD in 2009. Esthema believes that their sound can be taken cross-genre - Jazz, New Age, World, Acoustic, and even Progressive Rock and that no listener is out of reach.
Recommended and very enjoyable listen!
The most amazing thing about Esthema is that all members, despite having mastered whole different styles… (-Turkish born Onur Dilisen on violin is busy finishing his masters degree on violin at Boston Conservatory ; Tery Lemanis on oud/bouzouki graduated for guitar at Berklee College of Music while also having included a study on Bouzouki, Oud, and Byzantine music in Greece as part of the university’s exchange program ; Brazil born Bruno Esrubilsky on drums/percussion experienced a period of touring, teaching and studying throughout Europe, now joined in through Berkeley ; Argentine born Ignacio Long on bass has studied in Brazil, New York, and Boston for Composition and Film Score at Berkeley College of Music ; Andy Milas on guitar has been performing traditional and contemporary Greek music for over a decade throughout New England, but also arranged for Progressive Rock, Greek, New Age, and Jazz musical projects), together they manage to fuse and transform a resume of their skills into one fruitful unity with a more global style, and with each previous style completely adapted into one another. They perform with a sort of jazz-fusion improvised strength, which directs the music with some melodic flows, combined with the skilful rhythmical structures which have always micro rhythms available and subtle separate cooperative layers in them -which sound logical and easy, but which aren’t-, played by mostly cooperative-dialoguing paired or sometimes single instruments.
The acoustic guitar on its own could easily range from Spanish, Western and Greek flavours reaching out hands to the bouzouki/oud player while adding elements to the other members. The oud/bouzouki takes its own freedom, just a little bit more of a jazz nature in doing so, but with ideas coming forth from Greek and Middle Eastern music. The drums make many micro-rhythms possible, are skilful like jazz, but can handle art-rock, and adds moments of surprises and change with Latin/Cuban rhythms, without ever letting those new moments take over the flow of the melody drives, or the previous basic scale (especially great on “finding my way”). Also the bass player manages to add such Latin swing surprises amongst a more usual jazz-rock drive. The violin player has improvisations on top (comparable in nature to what happened in Curved Air or Mahavishnu Orchestra, but with a different flavour), in some way mixes a jazz-fusion freedom with an mid-eastern touch. Some of the used rhythmic scales are incredibly interesting like the 4+5/8 rhythm (-if I count right-), on “Distance”, and the brilliant, very unusual parts of even more combined rhythms on the closing track “apart from the rest”, which are (Ii think) adapted from Arab scales.
On the website they give a bit more detail into how they play Western Jazz improvisation and Eastern Taxims, Latin Samba and Eastern Kasilama, Western modes like Aeolian and Phrygian and Eastern Scales/Maqams like Hijaz, Sabah, and Niavent, for those who know what this all means in detail.
Recommended and very enjoyable listen!
—Phsyche Music , August 2008
...weaves us in and out of a perfectly crafted dream-world
In 2007, Boston-based instrumental group Esthema, released a CD entitled, "Apart From The Rest." This "World Fusion Ensemble" consists of five members merging the sounds of violin, oud/bouzouki, drums/doumbek, bass, and guitar. It is a blending of Eastern and Western traditions that bring myriad flavors to the table resulting in a wonderful international resonance. Within each of the six compositions featured on the CD, different styles and genres such as Middle Eastern, Jazz, and Progressive Rock are effortlessly pulled in and led away, only to reappear, forming a lovely circle of sound that fully engages the listener. "For Whom? For Me…" is one such example where these many pieces are smoothly rolled into one. Likewise on "Erimos," which keeps moving at a steady, upbeat pace that holds the listener's attention. Our favorite was "Distance," with the haunting beginning of a classical arrangement that then rises to a crescendo, and weaves us in and out of a perfectly crafted dream-world. This is the place where one can entirely appreciate the talent of these musicologists. Bravo!***** The Best!
—Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan, Phosphorescence Magazine, June 2008 Issue
...nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music
This recording is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music. The passion for the music cannot be understated, nor can the sense that these styles can breathe anew in this collection of songs. Though the five musicians themselves hail from different parts of the earth, the global chemistry between them is obvious, like five minds MIDI-linked without latency issues. It is refreshing to hear schooled musicians playing together and not simply showing off their chops. Though there are several opportunities for each individual to shine within the framework of these six pieces, this album is a true collaboration of musical sensibilities. This CD will be in my player for some time to come.
—Joel Simches, The Noise - Boston, May 2008
It’s a perfect combination of Middle Eastern/East European folk music and American jazz, like an amped-up Loreena McKennitt without vocals.
I’ve gotta come clean and tell you that I’m a bellydancer and I love jazz. I want to kiss my editor for sending me this disc. It’s a perfect combination of Middle Eastern/East European folk music and American jazz, like an amped-up Loreena McKennitt without vocals. This quintet has studied all over the world, and with excellent musicianship, they smoothly turn out originals centered around the beautiful melodies played on oud, bouzouki (both members of the lute family prominent in Middle Eastern music) and violin with bass, drums and guitar providing the support.
It’s the drums and bass that give these compositions an American jazz sound. Missing are the distinctly polyrhythmic Middle Eastern beats. In fact, if you isolated the rhythm section you’d find a pretty standard jazz base. Very well-played and creative, to be sure, but definitely not Turkish or Egyptian. The same goes for the bass and guitar. It’s the gorgeous minor melodies played on the other stringed instruments that serve as a centerpiece for this recording and really make them stand out from the crowd of bands doing “world music.” (Can I say how much I hate that term? Everything is world music. It’s just a label slapped on some bands by folks who think anything outside of the states is exotic.)
On “Consequence” the violin and bouzouki do a very cool call and answer, then join together for musical phrases. (Please forgive me if I confuse the oud and bouzouki. There aren’t separate credits for each cut and to my ear, they have a similar sound.) It quiets for a section then the bouzouki becomes the focus, ably backed by the drums and bass. There are several more sections – like a good jazz jam with lots of tasty melody – and towards the end is another call and answer. Beautiful. “For Whom? For Me …” is in an odd time that compliments the melody. Every good jazz band has a few tunes in something besides 4/4. “Apart From the Rest” really lets the band stretch and show off their chops with each of them taking a solo and no, the bass solo doesn’t suck. This isn’t some garage band, y’all, they know their stuff.
I should send roses to my editor for giving me this disc. As for everyone else – go hear Esthema live – they seem to play in Massachusetts and New York mostly – or buy their disc. Don’t bother with the flowers.
—Jamie Anderson, Indie-Music.com, April 2008
...a unique listening experience
While many may find the new age-jazz-rock fusion genre to be as pretentious as a Sting discourse on global warming and tantric sex, there is a band out there that might please even those critics. The Massachusetts-based Esthema is a promising quintet who has just released the enjoyable Apart From The Rest which works well because of the band’s top-notch musicianship.
Best of all, Esthema has added something else to the normally staid jazz-rock sound – a heavy Eastern European influence – that makes the six instrumentals on Apart From The Rest a unique listening experience. Every song features an impressive blending of genres with a typical example being the track “For Whom? For Me.” The song has a Moroccan influence but there is also an American jam-band vibe to it as Onur Dilisen impresses with his violin playing much like DMB’s Boyd Tinsley.
While there is some jazz freeform stuff going on underneath in some of the songs, Esthema also knows how to play a song with hooks and melody as the standout “Finding My Way” shows. With the right lyrics, that track could have easily found its way onto the radio.
For all of this to work, the musicians obviously have to be gifted and all here know exactly what they are doing. The most impressive are Andy Milas who does great acoustic steel guitar on “Consequence,” Carl Sorensen who provides a solid backbone with his strong drumming, and Tery Lemanis who plays the European stringed instruments the oud and bouzouki particularly well throughout the recording.
—Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine, March/April 2008 Issue
Esthema has made a truly moving and magical musical experience
Esthema is a World Fusion ensemble based in Boston, MA that deserves your attention. Drawing on musical styles from Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and combining them with Prog and Jazz themes is worth a listen, even if simply in respect for the sheer audacity this takes. Esthema has the goods to match its audacity with talent, reminding us all that it's only bragging if you can't back it up.
Apart From The Rest is ultimately listenable and memorable, taking your mood from Eastern European Café to Saudi Bazaar and back again. You'll tap your feet and find yourself dancing in your seat even if you're not the sort to do so. "Erimos" is a true gem here, slowing down the thought process but branching out to places you couldn't imagine a little instrumental EP going to. "Finding My Way" sounds like it should have been the soundtrack to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and you'll find the melody winding its way through your noggin long after the CD has stopped playing.
This reviewer is not generally a huge fan of instrumental records, as it is easy for instrumentalists to become self-derivative within the space of an album, but Esthema has made a truly moving and magical musical experience. They are definitely worth your time.
—Wildy Haskell, Wildy's World
...a truly exciting instrumental record
Although they call Massachusetts home, Esthema mix up progressive Western rock styles with Eastern European folk and Middle Eastern influences on their debut album, ‘Apart From The Rest’. They call it ‘world fusion’, and that’s as good a name as any for a form of music which seems to encompass such a large part of the planet. The Middle Eastern influence is especially enticing and in parts it reminds me of Jaz Coleman and Anne Dudley’s ‘Songs From The Victorious City’ album, at other times the references are less obvious, though no less captivating. Overall, a truly exciting instrumental record, which should appeal to musical adventurers everywhere. Their Myspace page offers four of the seven tracks to audition and if they hook you, then CD Baby has it available for purchase.
—Rob Forbes, Leicester Bangs
...the seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs
Esthema is a Massachusetts-based quintet that performs traditional Eastern/Latin (gypsy, Greek, samba) music with a solid jazz-rock foundation and flowing improvisation. I’d liken much of it to the music by those old guys who serenade the belly dancer at your local Middle Eastern restaurant – only on steroids.
The propulsive rhythms and consequent ability to build dynamic tension on a track such as “Distance,” for example, is what sets Esthema apart from a purely traditional ensemble. That, plus the seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs: Ethnic scales and meters intertwine delightfully with jazz-rock drums and bass beneath jazzy improv and winding melodies. “Finding My Way” is a great example of the band combining these disparate elements with a melody you can hum it.
Onur Dilisen’s authoritative violin leads are complemented by Tery Lemanis on oud and bouzouki for the undeniable ethnic flavor, while drummer/percussionist Carl Sorensen adds flair via djembe and doumbek. Acoustic guitarist Andy Milas and bassist Jack Mason provide the contemporary “glue” bringing it all together.
—John Collinge, Progression, Issue 52, Fall 2007
Progression magazine is a quarterly journal of progressive music.
Esthema knows what the heck it’s doing...
No two words scare a body like mine like world music do. Most of the time, the stuff’s created by a bunch of well-intentioned lads who drive expensive cars, wear fancy clothes and have a lot of liberal guilt over their immense financial superiority. The results are usually powerful enough to turn goat pee into rancid goat pee as said lads rarely take the time to learn how to play the instruments they claim to fascinated with. Often, they lock into a single idea, get their “we be jammin’” shtick on and go from there. Sure, I paint in broad strokes, have probably offended your Saab-toting uncle Walter (who just happens to wear suspenders and look a little bit like Barry Levinson to say nothing of how he won the county oud carving contest last summer). But all that offensive jargon, lads, was to let you know that Esthema knows what the heck it’s doing. With fine refined compositions such as “Consequence,” “For Whom? For Me” and “Finding My Way,” the Massachusetts-based quintet makes the case for not giving up on world music just yet.
— Jedd Beaudoin, Sea of Tranquility
Sea of Tranquility is a web portal for information, news, and reviews related to the worlds of progressive rock, various forms of metal, and fusion music.
I found lots to enjoy in this distinctive, very well played and solidly produced hybrid of musics. The writing was a very appealing hybrid of the music of several locales, with some Gypsy, Moroccan and Eastern European flavors. The sound of the strong violin, in combination with the guitar and Middle Eastern sounding stringed instrument (bouzouki), reminded me a good bit of Shakti, John McLaughlin's acoustic World music band, though that band was tilted more towards India and yours leans more towards Europe/Middle East. The playing was high quality and impassioned by all. The rhythm section was flexible and played with authority. Great stuff.
— TAXI, The World's Leading Independent A&R Company