Esthesis -
Watching Worlds Collide

(CD 2022, 50:31, Misty Tones)

The tracks:
  1- Amber(6:46)
  2- Place Your Bets(7:24)
  3- Skimming Stones(5:12)
  4- Wandering Cloud(6:00)
  5- Vertigo(5:01)
  6- 57th Street(12:00)
  7- Through My Lens(8:08)

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Here is another new name for me. Esthesis is a band/project led by French multi-instrumentalist Aurélien Goude (keyboards, vocals, guitar, bass). He is assisted by three other musicians, Baptiste Desmares (lead guitar), Marc Anguill (bass) and Florian Rodrigues (drums). They released their first EP, titled Raising Hands, in January 2019. This was followed in November of the next year by their first full-length album, The Awakening (see review). I have heard neither of these, so I have to assess them on strength of this second full-length effort. Cutting to the chase, I must say that this first encounter was very enjoyable. Seriously, this is a good album.

The short biography that I saw says that for his project, Goude was inspired by 1970s British rock, especially progressive rock, as well as metal and pop. Now this is rather general and perhaps also not very informative. I also think it is a bit misleading when it comes to the sound that you will enjoy when listening to the album. If anything, soundwise, I would compare the music to the school of new art-rock from the 2000s. Think of the mellower side of Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief, Riverside and the likes But also think of Talk Talk and other sophisticated quality pop And imagine the new art-rock bands turning into a jazzy direction, because the presence of saxophone on a few tracks (e.g. Place Your Bets) does seriously nudge the music over into that direction.
Interestingly, I sometimes hear a certain kinship to Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine - although the sound is quite different, less building on sequencers, synths and guitars. Esthesis is not as heavy, although they may turn quite solid as times. Check the heavy guitar riffs of Wandering Cloud (which then is alternated by horns that remind of Earth Wind & Fire!!). And also the violin solo of Skimming Stones is played over a base that suits atmospheric metal bands such as The Gathering very well. Contrasting this occasional heaviness are the mostly dreamy lead vocals by Goude, often doubled by backing singer Mathilde Collet (who steps a bit to the fore in Wandering Cloud).
Fun to listen to is the shortest piece, Vertigo, which is a rather funky instrumental with cool interplay between the musicians, some wicked rhythm patterns and some nice solos. Longest track is the twelve-minute 57th Street that in a great way combines jazzy influences and progressive rock.

Now I am curious about their previous work, and perhaps even more about where the future will take this promising group.

****- Carsten Busch (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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