Canada's Esmerine are an ambitious, Juno Award-winning chamber rock ensemble known for their expansive, stylistically eclectic instrumental sound.
Centered on former A Silver Mt. Zion cellist Beckie Foon and former Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron, Esmerine draw upon an eclectic mix of sounds -- from avant-garde classical and drone music to post-punk and various world traditions -- to craft their layered, largely acoustic instrumental songs.
Formed in Montreal in 2000, Esmerine came together after Foon and Cawdron met while recording with the instrumental side project Set Fire to Flames. Initially working as a duo, they released their debut album, If Only a Sweet Surrender to the Nights to Come Be True, on the U.K.'s Resonant label in May of 2003. Two years later they followed up with a second duo effort, Aurora, on the revered Ninja Tune imprint. They returned in 2011 with the Patrick Watson-produced La Lechuza, which featured an expanded group line-up and featured guest appearances by Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld and experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson.
For the band's fourth album, 2013's Dalmak, they traveled to Istanbul, where they recorded with various Turkish musicians, and then finished the album in Montreal with engineer Jace Lasek. Well received, it won the Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year. Also in 2013, Foon debuted her solo Saltland project with I Thought It Was Us But It Was All of Us. In 2015, Esmerine released Lost Voices, featuring songs composed while the band was staying in France at Le Chateau Monthelon, a manor house dating back to the eighth century. The album earned the band its second Juno Award, for Recording Package of the Year.
Over the next two years, the group stayed busy recording commissioned music for the National Film Board documentary Freelancer on the Front Lines, about journalists in the Middle East. Also during this period, Foon released her second solo Saltland effort. All of this informed the band's sixth full-length album, 2017's Mechanics of Dominion. Once again produced in Montreal with Jace Lasek, the album featured contributions from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Sophie Trudeau, violinist Cristina Zacharias, Turkish guitarist James Hakan Dedeoglu, and others. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi