features & interviews
Esthema Long Goodbye Albümü ve Söyleşi - June 2016
Esthema topluluğunun yeni albümü “Long Goodbye” ın hikayesini Onur Dilişen ve Andy Milas’tan dinleyeceğiz. Geçtiğimiz senelere göre kadrosunda değişiklikler olan Esthema’da kurucu müzisyenler kemanda Onur Dilişen ve gitarda Andy Milas’a bu albümde davul ve vurmalılarda George Lernis, ud ve buzuki’de Mac Ritchey, çelloda Naseem Alatrash, basta Tom Martin eşlik ediyor. Şimdi sözü Onur Dilişen ve Andy Milas’a bırakalım. [read more]
We will learn about the story of Esthema's new album Long Goodbye from Onur Dilisen and Andy Milas. Esthema (which has some changes in the line up compare to previous years) consist of the founder members (or musicians) Andy Milas on guitar, Onur Dilisen on violin; accompanied by George Lernis on drums and percussion, Mac Ritchey on oud and bouzouki, Naseem Alatrash on cello and Tom Martin on bass in this album. Let's hear it (all) from Onur Dilisen and Andy Milas.
SM: What's the story behind album title, Long Goodbye?
SM: Onur, on Long Goodbye you’ve composed two of the compositions, ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘Fire and Shadow.’ How do they fit in the overall theme of the album?
SM: Can you tell me how Long Goodbye is different than your prior albums?
SM: The two of you are the only original members that have been on all three Esthema recordings. How is working with new musicians for each recording? And how was it working with Mac, Naseem, George, and Tom?
SM: What are your favorites? What are your fans' favorites?
Introducing...Esthema | By Julie Stoller - October 2014
If you’re a sucker for strings (and organic percussion) like I am, you should be listening to Boston-based instrumental ensemble Esthema. Theirs is a Middle Eastern, Near Eastern and Balkan sound, steeped in tradition but with jazz fusion, progressive rock and at times even classical sensibilities. The result is sophisticated, exotic, exhuberant and mesmerizing. This past summer, they released their third album, Long Goodbye, and on November 20, they will be having a celebration of this release at the esteemed Cambridge jazz club, Ryles. They’ll also be at Lilypad on November 2. The new recording is an introspective concept album that features Andy Milas (guitar), Onur Dilisen (violin), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Mac Ritchey (oud & bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass) and George Lernis (drums & percussion). You can learn more about everyone’s impressive backgrounds and musical prowess on their official site. For now, listen below to a live version of “Three Sides To Every Story.”
Esthema dates back to 2006. In the summer of 2007, they released their debut, Apart From The Rest. That was followed by The Hearness and Nowness of Things in 2009. Their music was named in the Top 25 independent recordings of 2008 at Indie-Music.com, and these first two CDs have been in the weekly Top 20 at Latch Fusion Radio alongside such artists as Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. They’ve gotten radio airplay in the U.S., Europe and Turkey, and in 2010, the International Association of Independent Recording Artists (IAIRA) certified Esthema’s “Eastern Dance” as an International Top 10.
But never mind all that. The proof of truly great music is what happens between a person’s ears when they listen to it. Here is “Without A Moment’s Notice”:
And here’s some visual proof that these guys are really as amazing as they sound.
Read the review on-line at Boston Survival Guide.
Soundtrack of Our Lives. | Esthema at the Middle East Corner. | By Pete Salomone - October 2014
Music has changed, or at least the way we consume it. People have stopped listening to music; it’s simply become the background to our lives. The hifi systems are gone, the headphones have been reduced to mere travelling companions. Even once-ubiquitous rock music has been pushed out from the center, and it takes something like Apple & U2’s recent stunt to make it anything other than greatest-hits-tour fodder. In a world increasingly overridden by the pop-bubble and EDM, is there still a place for thoughtful, skillfully-made instrumental music?
Even if that place is getting smaller Esthema seem to think there is, and their outer-rim influences: world music, blended with prog and metal, only serve to improve the depth of their output. Progressive music is gone from the mainstream, but it wasn’t too long ago that Rush was filling stadiums, even less time since Dream Theater played hockey arenas, while more recent prog groups like Between the Buried and Me or Coheed and Cambria toured similar venues. The rock music that makes headlines is inherently simple, usually old style blues-based acts like The Black Keys or anything with Jack White. Esthema’s development is more complicated, its roots much older.
Fans of more recent progressive and metal groups, the musicians who make up Esthema are deeply versed in traditional Greek and Turkish music. Traditional stringed instruments make up a portion of Esthema’s sound in a fascinating and transformative, an unfortunately uncommon manner. Their recorded music is rife with drastic changes in tone, tempo, and time, and it would make sense that it would sound disjointed when played live. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where I was expecting a constant sea of improvised pieces, which may or may not fill a possible whole, I was met with cohesion from top to bottom. There were no extended sections which relied on visual or musical cues to bring the band back to the same page, nobody floated out to their own world, everyone played as one.
With players this skilled, jazz-influenced composition may veer towards self-indulgent tedium, but I was delighted by the attention to detail of their compositions. Esthema is a musician’s band. It takes an experienced ear to discern frequent time, key, and instrument changes from free-form madness. Every sound felt like the band had been over it more times than I care to think about, making sure nothing was being felt out on the spot, which made the organic feel of such intricate material all the more impressive. Esthema’s music deftly glided past pretension and found itself in a sea of riches instead. I couldn’t help but follow the tones and moods being pulled in a wonderful evocation.
This is the point, dear reader, where the story gets murky. The gentlemen of Esthema are some of the finest musicians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, yet for all of them this band is one of several ongoing gigs. These are career musicians, fluent in more styles than I can probably spell, and capable of producing engrossing music with the same requisite effort I require to amble to the bathroom in the morning. For all of the obvious ability and its flavorful fruits, there lies an air of inaccessibility, earned or not. Music is simply a group of sounds intended to produce a desired emotional or visceral effect, nothing more. A listener does not have to be able to properly notate the polyrhythmic time signatures or, hell, even know what that phrase means: if it transports you somewhere, does anything else matter?
If Yes and Bill Withers can successfully coexist in 1972, what’s to stop Esthema from achieving their own success in 2014? The sheer number of options available at your fingertips (you are reading this on the internet… aren’t you?) paints a bleak picture for many specialized artists these days, from house music, to reggae-influenced hip-hop, to heavy metal, to alt-country, the infamous record contracts are dying along with the labels that would have printed them, as music has become all but fully democratized. Sure, Beyonce or the Foo Fighters aren’t about to go the way of the dinosaur (we’ll always need a few collective experiences to call ourselves a society), but the good news is that there is so much good music being thrust upon the world that the act of finding it can be as daunting as a sheer cliff face. I can only hope each subgenre has something like Esthema in its ranks, producing such intricate, lush music as to make you forget how difficult it must truly be.
Read the review on-line at quietlunch.com.
Listen to Esthema live on Dream Farm Radio
Daniel Eggenberger - September 2013
Dan Aykroyd once said of the Blues Brothers: The ways of the Lord are deep. This statement could also be readily applied to Esthema's version of progressive rock. Esthema’s music has a unique flair. After being bombarded with tons of material in retro garment, new art rock etc, it was a delight to hear something completely different. The quintet from Boston consists of drums, bass, guitar, violin and bouzouki, oud (lute) and knows to combine a mix of jazz/fusion, folk and traditional music from the Balkans and the Middle East. The many minor chords that shape the sound and the melody sequences seem to tell a story. Guitarist Andy Milas and violinist Onur Dilisen make up the core of the band. On the first two CD's, though, the sound is also coined by the bouzouki/oud playing of Tery Lemanis. The cast carousel has meanwhile turned a bit and the next CD of Esthema will probably sound slightly different due to the drop out of the bouzouki/oud parts. Conclusion: In Apart From The Rest and The Hereness And Nowness Of Things, Esthema provides a perfect soundtrack to a kind of ‘world music meets progressive rock.’ If you want to check out the world of Esthema visit their very informative website: www.esthema.com. A new CD is already in the works and will be released soon.
Read the original feature on line, in German at proggies.ch.
MuammerKetencoglu.com - July 2013
As most know, my main musical focus is traditional music. But, every once in awhile, it is good and necessary to make a little change, do something different. And that’s what I did. Last week I checked out Indie-music.com and I ran across a piece by Esthema which surprised me and made me quite happy. Interestingly enough, this coincidence did not take me too far away from the traditional (Turkish/Greek/Balkan/Middle-Eastern) music style because Andy Milas, who founded the band in 2006, is a Greek-American guitarist, and (the other founding member) violinist Onur Dilisen is Turkish, from Izmir.
Esthema makes instrumental music. Usually these types of cosmopolitan music groups reinterpret popular songs, but these guys have their own unique style and character. They play their own music which is recorded in a minimalistic way that does not overwhelm the listener. I did some research on Esthema and discovered that they have 2 studio albums that were recorded in 2006 and 2009 and the third album is on its way. Although, there have been several line-up changes over the years, Onur Dilisen has been with Andy Milas since the beginning of the band. After his education in Dokuz Eylul State Conservatory, Onur continued his studies at Longy in 2002. Since 2009, he has been a member of Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra. Onur also has been a part of numerous Turkish, Greek and Balkan music ensembles.
Esthema likes the challenge. They do not approach the music like other bands do. Their compositions and music are a special combination of traditional Greek, Turkish, North African, Middle-Eastern timbers with jazz and progressive rock elements; a unique blend. Esthema's compositions are complex and multi-sectional. Makams like Hicaz, hicazkar and saba, that many listeners are familiar with frequently appear throughout their albums, as well as odd meters, such as 5/8, 7/8 and 9/8. It is full of emotion, velvety. The followers of indie-music.com must have been thinking the same way I do about Esthema, because they give them high praise which Esthema deserves.
Thank you Onur Dilisen, thank you Esthema...
Read this complete feature on line, in Turkish at www.muammerketencoglu.com/.
Hakan Algerian - June 2013
This interview was originally published in Turkish in June 2013 and can be found at muzik.stereomecmuasi.com/. The below is our attempt at a translation for all our non-Turkish speaking friends.
SM: Hello Onur. As I remember, I had interviewed you regarding Esthema's fist album "Apart From The Rest" in 2009. You have since recorded another album, "The Hereness And Nowness Of Things." How was the critical response?
Onur: Hello Hakan. First of all, I am so glad that we will be mentioned in your e-magazine again. On behalf of Esthema, thank you. The Hereness And Nowness of Things received a very positive response from American and international websites and magazines, such as Psyche Music, Skope Magazine, Progression Magazine, Noise Magazine, Indie-Music, Progressive Ears, Progressor.net and world famous Guitar Player Magazine. We were psyched.
SM: What are the differences between the first and the second albums? What happened in Esthema's music life?
Onur: Composition wise, our second album is more complex and advanced than the first one. It was more successful than the first because Andy had more time to compose and we all had more time to arrange the pieces. In addition, there is a piece (Four Colors) composed by myself on the second album which makes it more diverse from the first one. In terms of the sound of the two albums, I think the first album has a more natural sound which we all like better. I was never truly happy with the sound of the second album. But this gives us ideas about what to do and what not to do with the next recording.
SM: There were some musician replacements before the second album. How did this reflect on the project?
Onur: After recording our first album, Apart From The Rest, bass player Jack Mason due to his heavy work schedule, and drummer Carl Sorensen due to his plans for moving to another State had to leave the band. They are both great musicians and we knew we had to find their equals or better. After months-long search and auditions Argentinean bass player Ignacio Long and Brazilian drummer Bruno Esrubilsky joined us. They were already accomplished and successful players. They learned the pieces from the first album and the new piece that had been slotted for the second album very quickly and Esthema was ready to record once again. It is fair to say the first album had a more American sound, and the second album had a more Latin American sound. The drum solo in Forward Motion and bass groove in Eastern Dance have a clear Latin American influence. We, the old members, learned a lot from them as they learned a great deal from us during those years.
SM: I guess Esthema is getting ready for the third album. What kind of Esthema will be in this album?
Onur: Everything so far is going well. Most of the members have other music projects and there are also summer vacation plans, so it is going slowly which works because we want to be very selective for this project. Ignacio got an excellent offer to perform on a cruise ship, Tery moved to Greece and Bruno moved to NYC. Esthema had to focus on finding new members most of 2011. First, Cypriot drummer and percussionist George Lernis, then US native Tom Martin on bass and finally, Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash joined. With the new instrumentation, Esthema is definitely more strings oriented. Also, the Latin American influence is much less prevalent and the use of percussion is much more prevalent. They’re all great musicians with nice personalities. Our rehearsals, shows and recording sessions are a lot of fun. The title of the new album will be Long Goodbye. It has a dark and sad nature. The sound will be more acoustic. There will also be a piece composed by me again and it should be released by the end of 2013. We plan on sharing some of the new pieces with our fans before the release date.
SM: It was not easy for your fans in Turkey to reach your music. Do you have any plans to improve this? Will you be doing the distribution? How are the dialogs with record companies going?
Onur: We want them to have easier access but unfortunately no record company in Turkey has shown interest for us so we cannot have a legal stamp put on our albums in music stores. But, our music can be downloaded or ordered on internet (Amazon, iTunes, etc.). I would like to make an announcement via your e-magazine: Dear record companies, Esthema is waiting for your offers. (Onur Laughs)
SM: This question comes from our readers. The music business in Turkey is declining. Albums are selling less and it is not possible to survive only by live concerts. There is a big demand on playing live in music venues which makes the profit gets smaller everyday. How is it in USA?
Onur: This is an accurate analysis. The music stores have pretty much vanished in the US since iPods became popular. The vast majority of people don’t know the difference between WAV and mp3 files, or they cannot tell the difference, so the direction will not change anytime soon. There are still a few music stores in Germany and it is still common in Turkey. The type of music most people in US are listening to is far from Esthema's. Even though Boston is a very international city, it is very conservative when it comes to exploring and promoting different kinds of music, unlike NYC. Most music venue managers prefer to have singer-songwriters because that is the type of music people are most familiar with. I think this is why Esthema's future is in Greece, Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean.
SM: How is your individual music education and development going? Do you have any side projects besides Esthema?
Onur: After graduating from Boston Conservatory in 2009, I did my Optional Practical Training and later I got my O-1 working visa. I play in several local symphony orchestras in the New England area in addition to performing with Turkish and Greek music ensembles. I do session (studio) work and teach privately as well. I believe I am developing my playing, improvising styles and skills everyday, especially in Turkish music.
SM: Have there been any changes in your music taste since our first interview with you? What have you been listening to lately?
Onur: Lately, I have been listening to Brazilian guitarist Yamandu Costa, Turkish violinist Nedim Nalbantoglu, late albums of Dream Theater, Israeli bass player Avishai Cohen, Greek music group Takim, Turkish Taksim Trio and albums of Muammer Ketencoglu.
SM: Lastly, what would you like to say to Stereo e-magazine readers?
Onur: On Esthema’s behalf, I salute all your readers. The value of this e-magazine should be understood and supported by all. Thank you to all our fans in Turkey who have reached out to us. If you have not already, you should definitely check out the Hereness and Nowness of Things. The next album is coming soon and we are so excited that we will be sharing some new pieces with all our fans. I believe that this album will get a special place in the hearts and minds of all listeners. A huge thank you to Stereo once again for being the bridge between Esthema and sophisticated music listeners. Keep listening to us.
Listen to Esthema live on DreamFarm Café recorded in April 2013.
Hypetree.com - March 2012
Serious talent alert – as soon as you hear any recording by esthema (don’t you dare capitalize that “e”), you’ll recognize the polish, superb training, and skill that keeps this group tight. Aside from being an extremely effective advertisement for how good Berklee College of Music can make you at World Fusion, the group has some impressive cred: inclusion in the weekly Top 20 at Latch Fusion Radio, Top 25 of 2011 Award at Indie-Music.com, and numerous awards for having 2011′s most difficult band name to properly pronounce or spell from memory.
I’ll be the first to admit that World Fusion sometimes has a tendency to drag on, but esthema keeps it snappy with a tight rhythm section under flowing lead lines and expert comps. The sign of any great jazz group is its ability to come together – anyone can sit in a circle and jam, but these guys really play off each other in a captivating way.
It’s hard to explain, but they seem to sound both very loose and very in control at the same time. They’ll be soloing, letting the chords simmer, and then all of a sudden join each other in the exact same line. Do yourself a favor and give them a listen – it’s always nice to hear an honest bunch of guys who are really, really way too good at their instruments.
Read this blog on line at seeds.hypetree.com/2012/03/new-music-esthema/.
Jim Sullivan - January 2011
Jazz-rock fusion has a negative connotation in a lot of people's minds because they invariably think each genre is compromised, not enhanced. They have a point. The Boston quintet Esthema makes a very good counter-argument. (It's not exactly jazz-rock fusion, either.) After listening to their second disc, "The Hereness and Nowness of Things," I'd agree with Gerald Van Waes of Phyyche Music, who says, the band creates "a new new form of chamber folk (rock) music with a total world music fundament." Violinist Onur Dilisen was raised in Turkey and graduated from the Boston Conservatory; oud and bouzouki player Tery Lemanis is a Berklee grad; drummer Bruno Esrubilsky hails from Rio and is currently at Berklee; bassist Ignacio Long was born in Argentina and is another Berklee grad; guitarist Andy Milas has been performing traditional and contemporary Greek music for two decades and has written and arranged for various prog-rock, metal, jazz and new age projects. So, you might expect this seamless blend of Eastern and Western music, a sinuous, flowing work that snakes its way through the brain and hits a variety of pleasure receptors. They're playing at Church with Emperoor Norton's Stationery Marching Band Sunday Jan. 9. Starts at 9. [read more]
Torodd Fuglesteg - September 2010
Apart From The Rest released in July of 2007 came together as all the parts of Esthema were being put together. I started writing Consequence, the first piece on the CD with only an idea of what the whole would be and sound like. I knew I wanted to incorporate all the musical elements that I enjoyed – progressive rock, jazz, and Greek music. As the unit came together with Tery Lemanis (oud & bouzouki), Onur Dilisen (violin), Jack Mason (bass), and Carl Sorensen (drums) so did the CD. I was writing the pieces and the arrangements came together as we rehearsed. Once Esthema was whole, I really wanted to record the CD as soon as possible in order to capture the excitement of new compositions and arrangements and the exploration of getting to know one another musically and personally. I think we definitely captured an unforgettable moment in time. [read more]
Janie Franz, Music Up Close - April 2010
Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Andy Milas, the frontman for the five-piece ethnic, prog rock-influenced jazz ensemble, Esthema. Blending traditional elements of Eastern European Balkan and Near/Middle Eastern music with Western jazz, prog rock, and Latin styles, the band is setting stages afire wherever they perform. [read more]
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
H Algerian - February 2009
Bu özel röportajda sizlere benim çok sevdiğim bir grubun bünyesindeki bir Türk müzisyeni tanıtmaya çalışacağım. Grubun ismi Esthema ve grubun kemanisti Onur Dilşen. Bu keyifli röportajı sizlere sunmaktan çok mutluyum ve Esthema'nın Apart From The Rest albümünü dinlemenizi şiddetle tavsiye ediyorum. [read more]