facebook twitter

2016 news

Esthema intrigue the ear and imagination with gripping third album Long Goodbye

September 2016

Although Long Goodbye has been in circulation for a 2 years (wherever did the time go!) it is still new to many ears.

Mr. Bill Copeland of Bill Copeland Music News recently got his hands on the CD and had some amazing things to say:

Esthema might be a hard band to categorize or label but their music is easy to enjoy. This six piece band from Boston are highly skilled musicians who perform and record exotic, explorative instrumental music. Each of their compositions is inspired by a story from real life and they take their listener through a journey, creating their sonic landscape with Mac Ritchey on electric and acoustic oud and bouzouki, Naseem Alatrash on cello, and Onur Dilisen on violin as much as with Andy Milas on guitar, Tom Martin on bass, and George Lernis on drums and percussion. Their third CD, Long Goodbye, offers the listener many pleasant and some dark but always exciting and intriguing journeys into sound.

As you’ve already gathered by the kind of instruments they utilize, this is a band unlike most others. Their eight tracks offer elements of gypsy music, Eastern European influences, Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms, all within progressive rock structures.

Esthema open their glorious album of expansive music with “Three Sides To Every Story, Part 1,” which has two sequel songs, parts II and III that follow it. An acoustic guitar speaks to the heart with its somber, contemplative melody while a violin sings a darker line that speaks of sorrow. A shift from electric to acoustic guitar and the song feels like its journey has begun. There is a sense of adventure in the guitar and bass progressions while other instruments create an exotic sound that travels on the surface of it. The work is structured so that each instrument finds an important role to play. Aggressive cello playing turns the brisk pace sharper and it feels like some kind of intense event is about unfold. It’s uncanny how Esthema can tell such a dramatic story using only music.

“Three Sides To Every Story Part II” commences with a sense of European exoticism on violin. There is a sense of mystery and darkness from the higher registers as the rhythm section plays a knobbier expression to keep the mystery and darkness rooted in something with a motor. The whole section feels like a train ride through the dark of night into barren territory between cities. One can almost picture the train tunnels as the tones take darker turns. An electric oud makes this feel like rock and roll while also flavoring the piece in Middle Eastern melodies.

“Three Sides To Every Story Part III” is a gentler turn from the violin, cello, and the rhythm section. “Fire And Shadow” is notable for its electric oud melodic line, like something exotic and familiar at once. It speaks steadily, sharply of an opposing force while a dancing violin line bobs and weaves with strident purpose here. Later, that violin sounds lifted, airborne, a quality of lightness that takes skill to invoke. Beneath it, the rhythm section conjures subtle magic of its own, a tender tug that one can feel in a knobby low end and a tastefully smacked drum progression.

“Reflections From The Past” is a sweet amalgamation of melodic lines from a variety of instruments. A foreboding bass line and tympani create a sense of mystery before an intense violin line ratchets up the intrigue. More importantly than the soundscape created is the emotion conjured by it. This band plays the soundtrack to the conscious and subconscious mind. They play in a way that tells the story of what someone is thinking, and they’re able to do that because their skill level allows them the freedom to go in any direction they chose and to conjure, in music, the challenges a person is facing.

“Without A Moment’s Notice” is a sly subtle piece that gently introduces itself to the listener with tender applications of an oud, violin, and drum work. It increases in dynamics yet remains gentle in nature. Exchanges between instruments and the band’s tighter ensemble moments are equally exciting and it’s refreshing to hear such gripping rock music played on string instruments and the Middle Eastern flavored oud. That oud has a way of making a long series of notes play in quick succession. It tugs at the ear.

“Reminiscence” could be a belly dancer’s movement score as well as an intriguing bit of rock and roll percussion. Exotic hand held percussion instruments flavor this piece like gypsy music, as does a violin that dances around the rhythms. The entire piece is based on the rhythm, so tightly wrapped around it that even the melodic instruments plays melodies that are loaded with rhythmic thrusts. The piece creates, at once, several sensations of movement, a whirling dervish of instruments. It’s also a lot of fun to listen to.

Title track “Long Goodbye” closes out the album with almost 12 minutes of intriguing music. Soft, moody violin lines and meditative drum work will hit the ear every few seconds with their undeniable emotion. A solidly strummed oud brings in the most incredible gorgeous tones as a dark, smoldering cello phrase captures the imagination, like a film character skulking in the shadows for yet unknown reasons. That cello becomes more prominent, and reminds of many things, old horror movies soundtracks, chamber music, and the classical instruments that have been included in some of the best rock albums.

Esthema are certainly a treat for the ears and an inspiration to the imagination. This third CD should garner them more acclaim, higher visibility, and, if everything is right with the world, a wider audience for their exciting, intriguing sound.

Everyone in Esthema is truly humbled by this review. Thank you Bill!

Esthema Stereo Mecmuasi Interview

June 2016

This month Esthema's Andy Milas and Onur Dilisen sat with Stereo Mecmuasi to talk about the latest CD, Long Goodbye. The interview, in Turkish is published in its entirety at Stereo Mecmuasi. You can read the english translation right here.

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?

Andy: The composition ‘Long Goodbye’ was inspired by a conversation I had with my father’s doctor. At the time, my father had been diagnosed with a disease that the doctor referred to as a long goodbye. There was no cure, only medicine to help treat it but his condition would worsen over time and at some point, the medicine would stop being effective. After most of the compositions had been written for the album, I felt that ‘Long Goodbye,’ thematically and musically best captured the essence of the entire album.

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?

Onur: On our previous album, we had one of my compositions ‘Four Colors.’ My compositions on Long Goodbye ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘Fire and Shadow’ have quite different characteristics from each other. Both are relatively old compositions; ‘Fire and Shadow's’ main sketches date back to 2007 and ‘Reminiscence’ from 2009. ‘Reminiscence’ is a true Turkish folk/Anatolian rock sounding tune. One can easily say that it has some Mogollar (Anatolian rock band) vibe. Even though the main melody is quite traditional sounding, the harmonies throughout the tune are inspired by my listening to the modern approach of Turkish music and the pieces composed by Turkish composers in 20th century which I am familiar with from my conservatory education in Izmir. With Long Goodbye being such a dark album, we all thought that ‘Reminiscence’ could bring a contrast, a moment to forget the sorrow to the listeners. As ‘Reminiscence’ reflects my Turkish folk and folk-rock music influence, ‘Fire and Shadow’ definitely reflects my rock and metal roots. The intro was partially inspired by the Mezarkabul (known as Pentagram in Turkey) song "Anatolia" and the slow middle part was partially inspired by Metallica’s song ‘My Friend Of Misery.’ For several years, Andy and I tried to find a good arrangement for this tune without sounding too metal-y. What was originally written and what was recorded are a little different from each other, but the arrangements that my fellow band members and I came up with, made this tune much better than I could have ever imagined. It is much darker than ‘Reminiscence’ (and ‘Four Colors’), so it fits really well in an album like this. Also, we all satisfy our thirst to play rock music when we play this tune.

SM: Can you tell me how Long Goodbye is different than your prior albums?

Andy: Long Goodbye is definitely darker. I think it has a sadder sound. Don’t get me wrong, it has its driving, fast paced moments but the overall arc starting with the solo acoustic guitar in ‘Three Sides To Every Story, Part I’ and ending with the cello solo taking its final breathe in ‘Long Goodbye,’ there is definitely a mood being set unlike Apart From The Rest and the Hereness and Nowness of Things. Onur: I certainly agree with Andy. Having tunes as a part of one bigger idea like ‘Three Sides To Every Story’ is something we haven't done on previous albums; it is dark yet full of energy at some parts. And having the cello made some of the arrangements sound much fuller and more interesting. I also think George Lernis' composition ‘Reflections From The Past’ has a good jazz sound which we would like to explore even more in the future. All the compositions on this album are really well written and the arrangements are tasteful. I can say that we raised the bar with this album, without any hesitation.

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?

Andy: It is never a good thing when a band member leaves. We end up spending so much time together. Of course we have our disagreements and arguments, but in the end we are like family. You share something very special when you play music with another person. We have been fortunate; no one has left because they didn’t want to be in Esthema. They left because life was taking them in a new direction, to new places around the globe. However, if I had to throw a positive spin to having to find new band members for each of our three CDs, it would be that you get the opportunity to work with new musicians. And working with Mac, Naseem, George and Tom has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

Onur: Yes, working with Tom, George, Naseem and Mac has been so rewarding for me and for the band, both artistically and spiritually. They are all really nice gentlemen, great musicians and wonderful friends. I remember that Esthema spent months if not a year to search for a bass player. Luckily, Tom and Esthema found each other. I knew George from a Greek ensemble that we played and when I heard that he would be interested in Esthema, I got very excited. I was playing in a friend's recording session at Berklee and heard Naseem play some Middle-Eastern taxim and thought this would be a great addition to Esthema. A couple months later, he joined the band. Mac joined Esthema was while we were recording the Long Goodbye album. It was so great to get back the Oud and Bouzouki sound. In addition to that, he is an amazing studio engineer which helped us tremendously when we were finishing up all the editing. Although, it can take some time to adjust new players' playing styles, I would say that it is very exciting to know the past and current members. I feel lucky that I got to know all of them and played with them for years.

SM: What are your favorites? What are your fans' favorites?

Onur: For the longest time, my favorite Andy Milas composition was been ‘Illusion of Truth’ but since the release of the new album I think ‘Without A Moment's Notice’ took its place. My other favorite on this album would be ‘Three Sides To Every Story Part III.’ In addition to these favorites, the crowd always loves ‘Reflections From The Past,’ ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘Long Goodbye’ of course. I am personally very happy with how my violin solo in ‘Fire and Shadow’ compliments and locks with the tune.

Andy: For me it would definitely be ‘Without A Moment's Notice’ and ‘Long Goodbye’ from Long Goodbye and ‘Arrhythmia’ from the Hereness and Nowness of Things. We’ve never polled the fans for their favorites but I know my wife loves 'Apart From The Rest.' I think a fan poll would be a great idea.

A sincere THANK YOU to Stereo Mecmuasi for their continued support!

Esthema's Illusion of Truth LIVE

May 2016

From Esthema's 2009 the Hereness and Nowness of Things Illusion of Truth is definitely one of our favorities when performing! Watch it live from the Lily Pad. This performance is from January 10, 2016.

Esthema's Consequence LIVE

April 2016

And here it is, the first composition ever written for Esthema, Consequence from the 2007 release A P A R T FROM THE REST. This tune just doesn't get old!

Esthema's Without A Moment's Notice LIVE

March 2016

The third video release from Esthema is the composition that was inspired by that moment where life changes forever and the recognition that when life finally does go back to “normal” things are never quite the same, Without A Moment's Notice from Esthema's Long Goodbye was recorded live at the Lily Pad in Cambrige, MA on January 10, 2016.

Esthema Live

February 2016

The second video release from our January 10 show at the Lily Pas is Esthema's latest composition, Hijaro. Hijaro is the first composition to be slotted for our next CD release (release date TBD). Working Title: IV

We hope you enjoy!

Esthema Captured Live

February 2016

The first of many live videos is officially released! Back on January 10, 2016 Sam Harchik captured Esthema live at the Lily Pad show. Here is the first, Fire & Shadow: