… the group plays at a truly world-class level
As their press states, this Boston-based quintet is “a world fusion ensemble mixing elements of Eastern European/Balkan and Near/Middle Eastern music with jazz and progressive rock.” Led by exceptional guitarist and composer guitarist Andy Milas, Esthema also includes Turkish violinist Onur Dilisen, oud and bouzouki player Tery Lemanis, Argentine Bassist Ignacio Long, and Brazilian drummer Bruno Esrubilsky. Drawing on advanced musical studies and international performance experience, the group plays at a truly world-class level, with authenticity, aplomb, and exuberance, resulting in a sumptuous blend that’s as tasty as an Athenian olive.
- Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player Magazine, April 2010
If one wants some breathtaking World Fusion music, then Boston, MA's Esthema is the way to go.
If one wants some breathtaking World Fusion music, then Boston, MA's Esthema is the way to go. Despite the heavy Middle Eastern influence and sound, this has universal appeal. The recording is magnificent bringing all the instruments both exotic and traditional, fully up in the mix. The drums especially sound wonderful, in particular the cymbals and snare drum. Of course, it helps to have an excellent drummer, and Esthema do in Bruno Esrubilsky.
Other instruments featured include acoustic and electric guitar, violin, bass, bouzouki and oud. If Rock fans were able to enjoy the Page/Plant tour of '95-'96 and heard all the Middle Eastern arrangements to various Led Zeppelin songs with an open ear, than why not Esthema? The track "On & On" is the closest to being maintsream or Rock oriented, largely due to the killer electric guitar solo by Andy Milas which shows a heavy Jazz Fusion influence from acts like The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. It's just an outstanding piece of music and the drums and violin are also stellar. Nothing else displayed here sounds like this one song, and it would be nice to hear more material of this ilk.
"Eastern Dance" sounds just like the title says and features very delicate arrangements that work perfectly, while "Arrythmia" is more of a mellower, drawn out piece. For fans of World Music, Jazz Fusion, Progressive Rock and even Folk Rock, Esthema are a rewarding investment.
-Peter Braidis, Indie-Music.com
I could not recommend this more highly to lovers of world and jazz music.
The latest from Esthema is another great slab of east meets west, jazz meets world, art meets earth. A follow-up to their critically acclaimed Apart From the Rest, this new album picks up on the framework previously laid down, while refining and blurring the lines of influence. The band has obviously evolved to become more that a sum of their parts. This new release is a much more cohesive singular idea. This thread of continuity gives this album a natural flow lacking in their previous release. The compositions are more of a collaboration of all members than just one, which provides a fluid counterpoint, spotlighting the talents of everyone in the band so eloquently. I could not recommend this more highly to lovers of world and jazz music.
-Joel Simches, The Noise Magazine
Excerpt from TAXI's (the World Leader in Independent A&R) critique of Change of Season
The group sounds excellent. Based on what I am hearing you’re all superb musicians. I’m quite impressed by the fusing of Middle Eastern/South Asian & perhaps medieval approaches with jazz improve sensibility; the results sound seamless as well as fresh & inspired. The recording is also well done; to my ears this is radio ready and is sonically viable for potential film/TV uses.
-TAXI, The World Leader in Independent A&R
...melodic, smoothly flowing persuasion with exotic texturing and tricky changeups
Two years after debut Apart from the Rest, eclectic Boston-area ensemble Esthema returns with another album of Eastern- and Latin-flavored ethnic instrumentals sifted through the jazz-improv strainer. Violinist Onur Dilisen and guitarist Andy Milas pace these eight tracks with Tery Lemanis (oud, bouzouki) lending ethnic flavors. Ignacio Long (bass) and Bruno Esrubilsky (drums) man the rhythm section. Guests on doumbek and cello also appear.
Like its predecessor, The Hereness and Nowness of Things is of melodic, smoothly flowing persuasion with exotic texturing and tricky changeups. Nine-minute opener “Change of Season” sets the prevailing tone of subtle mood shifts, from mysterious to playful to cerebral – unpredictably twisting and winding about in mid-tempo fashion. Long’s understated bass soloing pushes the jazz vibe out front while Dilisen alternates between strident and swingin’.
The likes of “Eastern Dance” and “Four Colors” are danceable (but you’d better be especially light on your feet). “Illusion of Truth” has some swiftly nimble call-response passages. “On & On” features Milas on electric guitar, which Esthema hopefully will explore further next time.
-John Collinge, Progression Magazine, Fall 2009 - Issue 58
Esthema’s approach is like a great example how a world fusion band should be able to sound.
Esthema’s approach is like a great example how a world fusion band should be able to sound. Nothing here of the recognisable themes to be improvised upon, but contemporary music based upon a wide range of skills and ideas, forming a new form of chamber folk(rock) music with a total world music fundament. The violin plays with jazz-fusion abilities but also switches easily to a few folkdance melodies with the same sort of strength; the percussion plays with accurate precision, including microrhythms (learned from his Brazil days), while broadening the scopes and pushing the boundaries towards a folk-rock and jazzrock, something which even improved the band’s original sound with a subtle touch of power. There are recognisable Greek or occasional Turkish music themes here and there, immediately adapted into bigger compositions and orientations. Surprising was also the use of some electric guitar, which widens the emotionality within the music even more, in an equally subtle balance. There were some guest appearances on dumbek and cello. Highly recommended!
-Gerald Van Waes, Phsyche Music
Esthema seems to have a solid grasp of what the hereness and nowness of things is about.
The band Esthema may hail from Boston, but it is the diverse makeup of the band that makes them so unique. The world fusion quintet contains some members from Turkey, Brazil, and Argentina. They are all thoroughly trained musicians, and to add to their range, some of them have trained throughout several countries in Europe, including Spain, Greece, Belgium, and Ireland. Putting all of these pieces together, Esthema brings something original on their second release, The Hereness and Nowness of Things.
Esthema’s first release, Apart From the Rest was composed of six tracks that were written by guitarist Andy Milas. They were arranged by the entire band and included many elements of Eastern and Western music. On The Hereness and Nowness of Things the creation process is pretty much the same, outside of “Four Colors”, which was written by violinist Onur Dilisen.
With over eight songs, Esthema really takes you around the world while ranging from more traditional elements to some more modern, and often a combination of them. The styles vary, and you will be reminded of different regions several times, sometimes even in the same song. Personally I tend to prefer the more traditional aspects, but I think the quality of the musicians carries you through the different characteristics that you may like less and makes the transitions smooth. My favorite track is the opener “Change of Season”, so sample that one first. The closer “On & On” tends to be more modern, so check out that one to get a better sense of the range of this album.
At first The Hereness and Nowness of Things seemed an unfitting title for this album. There is much more to this album then the “here and now”, it certainly seems to cover the “then and there” as well. However, the more I think about the title, how it feels, and the time in which it is being released, Esthema seems to have a solid grasp of what the hereness and nowness of things is about.
- Kevin Kozel, Muzik Reviews
...an emotional experience that is dramatic and cinematic
Boston isn’t known as a major player in world music but that doesn’t mean it isn’t home to some fine bands who love to play the more complex and unconventional sounds associated with the genre. Need proof, just listen to Esthema’s latest cd The Hereness and Nowness of Things which expands on the charms of the group’s debut Apart from the Rest by tackling new ways to fuse European, Middle Eastern, and American music together.
In the past, Esthema has successfully incorporated music from the Eastern European Balkan area and the Near/Middle East with the sounds of progressive rock and jazz. The result gave the band a distinct personality as it flawlessly blended such traditional Western instruments as the guitar, bass, and drums with Eastern instruments such as the oud and bouzouki.
Now, as apparent from listening to the all-instrumental The Hereness and Nowness of Things, the five members of Esthema sound even more confident as they are willing to add folk rhythms from Eastern European dances to its songs. The tracks “Eastern Dance” and “Arrhythmia” are the best examples of this as the stringed instruments played by Andy Milas (guitar), Onur Dilisen (violin), and Tery Lemanis (oud and bouzouki) sparkle by giving off a nice groove.
While songs like these showcase the band’s willingness to add new textures to its sound, the most enjoyable stuff on this recording are the songs that are more like the stuff heard on the group’s debut. However, this time things are more complex. The opening track entitled “Change of Season” is a nine-minute epic that feels more classical in nature because of its numerous tempo changes and glorious violin and cello work. Best of all, it gives the listener an emotional experience that is dramatic and cinematic.
Another standout is “On and On” which is definitely the most accessible track on The Hereness and Nowness of Things. The first half of the song is pleasant enough with an understated violin and guitar but the second half is where Esthema lets loose with its rockier side. The most impressive aspect to it is Milas’ guitar work which is propelled beautifully by the steady rhythm section of bassist Ignacio Long and drummer Bruno Esrubilsky.
In the end, Esthema’s sophomore release should be experienced as a whole though because there is no filler here. In fact, the band shows on the cd that it is talented enough to be a player in the world music scene—and not only in Boston, but anywhere.
- Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine
A listener can't go wrong with The Hereness and Nowness of Things; there is much to love.
Boston's Esthema offers a world-class collaboration of the highest order. Their sophomore CD, The Hereness and Nowness of Things, is currently being released, and once again, Esthema dazzles. The eight instrumental tracks each have a distinct flavor, with the overall common theme of changes in tempo that build excitement and mystery, while enriching the texture of each composition. "Change of Season," an exotic Arabian nights interlude, and "Four Colors" perfectly illustrate pace changes that blend seamlessly into each other and journey full circle to a satisfying conclusion. "Arrhythmia" is a slightly otherworldly piece that gets under your skin, as its base and rhythm keep time with your heart. Or sample "Forward Motion," a bold but sweet, skillful intermingling of sounds. Throughout the CD, the individual instruments of guitar, violin, oud and bouzouki, bass, and drums, take on a persona of their own in each song, as they guide our feelings and emotions to follow wherever they lead. A listener can't go wrong with The Hereness and Nowness of Things; there is much to love.
- Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan, Phosphorescence Magazine
Boston’s Esthema may be one of the most original acts we’ve come across.
Boston’s Esthema may be one of the most original acts we’ve come across. A World Fusion band that takes that label to heart, Esthema blends Eastern European, Middle Eastern, South American and Far Eastern Sounds with Progressive Rock and Classical elements to create magic. Esthema released their debut album, Apart From The Rest in 2007, receiving significant positive press. They follow up on November 3, 2009 with their sophomore effort, The Hereness And Nowness Of Things.
Esthema leads off with Change Of Season, mixing Western, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern sounds in a dynamic musical composition that sounds like it should the opening score element of a major motion picture. The piece has a highly distinctive sound and style and is very enjoyable. The cultural genre-bending continues on Eastern Dance. Highly energetic and danceable, Eastern Dance varies significantly from the sort of popularized dance music currently in vogue, relying on pulsing and morphing organic rhythms that travel from percussion to strings and back again. The focus changes slightly on the Mediterranean flavored A Place To Rest before Esthema returns to a grand cinematic feel for Arrhythmia. Nuanced and vibrant, A Place To Rest co-mingles Middle Eastern and old world Spanish styles and sounds in pleasurable ways.
Four Colors features a vibrant, almost frantic energy in an explosively energetic dance number before Esthema rolls into Illusion Of Truth. Illusion Of Truth has a cloudy feel to it, with a theme that's roiled and punctuated by turbulence. It's as if "facts" and "truth" collide atmospherically in a cycle that never ends, winding and unwinding throughout the composition sparking sometimes storms and sometimes unsettled skies. Esthema closes out with the "Pop-iest" selection on the disc. On & On has a serene feel that's neither ethereal nor ambient but lends to a sense of transcendence. You can almost hear an arrangement of this forthcoming from Keith Lockhart.
We noted that Esthema's Apart From The Rest was a magical musical experience. On The Hereness And Nowness Of Things, Esthema leaves behind the magical world for the gritty, earthy charm of The Mediterranean, where culture upon culture washes upon the shore with sometimes unpredictable outcomes. The Hereness And Nowness Of Things is a musical breadbasket where loaves and fishes mix in fantastical ways and there's always enough to fulfill you as a listener, no matter how many times you return.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
—Wildy Haskel, Wildy's World, October 2009