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Big Beautiful Noise: ...an intimate feel and fearless quality all at once.

May 2019

Read the latest review of Esthema's IV in Big Beautiful Noise

A sincere thanks to Lee Henderson for the kind and thoughtful words!!!

Ripe with traditional folk and fusion from various eastern and Balkan regions, Esthema, a 5 piece world explorer outfit, mix in touches of progressive rock and jazz elements, for a truly spherical album. Their sound is radiant and well composed. This is the groups 4th release (the cover art shows 4 slashes to represent this, in a long forgotten primitive form), of alternating gentle exotic pieces with stimulating ascending passages, all done with great pathos.

Their sound is comparable to some old and new bands of the world music world. The older music lovers may remember ethnic fusion bands like Ancient Future, Doa (who later changed their name to Doa'h, due to the 'dead on arrival' confusion), Oregon, Tri Atma (before they became an electric ethno-fusion band), and incredible world music groups from around the world like Flairck, from The Netherlands (when they began to stretch out with various cross culture music ), and Babia from Spain (who featured Luis Delgado). So parallels are there, but Esthema carry on with new music and keep the bright flame alive for inventive world fusion. One can hear a great many unique and original combinations with their music. It is important to mention that they do not use synthesizers, and anything you hear suggesting the electronic nature of one, is done by an acoustic/electric oud. The band keeps the emphasis on acoustic.

While Esthema have had a couple of line up changes over the years, the credits for this fourth album are : Andy Milas (guitars) , Onur Dilisen, originally from Turkey (violins), Mac Ritchey (oud, bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass), and George Lernis (drums, percussion). I have posted a couple of You Tube links at top, so you can listen to two different dynamics of this outfit. Some songs such as 'Successive Waves' (track 5 - 12:42) give you an introduction of delicate beauty, then move to a haunting elegance, wet with mystery, then into an uptempo jazz fusion. Very powerful.

'IV' is full of Esthema's skills with interesting, and at times arresting fluctuations. Operating exactly like a chamber band, the precision of performance is key, and the ability to instantly move from butterfly-like gentleness to rigorous interplay, and unite the elementary with the complex, is outstanding. Also the music has an intimate feel and fearless quality all at once. These Boston based guys are world class experienced musicians and terrific composers. The physical CD is a 6 panel glossy digipak beauty, with extra pictures inside. RECOMMENDED.

The Progressive Aspect: There’s a wonderful warmth to Esthema’s music, one that beckons you in, then quickly wraps you tightly in its intricately woven mesh

April 2019

Read the latest review of Esthema's IV in The Progressive Aspect

Thank you Bob Mulvey and The Progressive Aspect for the kind words and your continued support.

Not entirely sure how Esthema’s third album, Long Goodbye, arrived at TPA HQ back in 2014, but I’m certainly glad it did. From the opening bars I was intrigued and then very quickly hooked, as their subtle blend of intricately woven folk instrumentation, meshed with jazz/fusion and Eastern European music resonated immediately. Since then this album has become a firm favourite, especially in those more tranquil moments. So when, some five years down the line, this Massachusetts based ensemble dropped us an email to see if we might like to review their aptly titled fourth album, IV – or as the album cover infers IIII – “too right”, was the reply.

Shortly after, and as promised, the CD arrived. A quick glance at the inner gatefold reveals an almost intact line-up from the previous release, which was reassuring as there was a wonderful chemistry on Long Goodbye, and one you felt needed to remain pretty much the same. The amalgam of Eastern European meets Western music is reflective of the cultural heritage of those musicians that comprise the band, and gives it the Esthema sound. So as the opening track emerged from the speakers a reassured smile crossed my face.

There’s a wonderful warmth to Esthema’s music, one that beckons you in, then quickly wraps you tightly in its intricately woven mesh. Slowly absorbing, Be lures in the hesitant listener with its gentle guitar textures, slithering oud, lyrical violin and hypnotic rhythms.

The album comprises four lengthy pieces, broken by three shorter pieces, or interludes as they are titled. These transitional pieces flow seamlessly, leaving the atmosphere of the music whole, and allowing Esthema to hold the listener in their grip.

Throughout IIII I was struck by the sheer depth of the music, there’s an almost contemporary classical symphony sense to the four main pieces. The delightful rise and fall of Be, the impassioned Part Of Me, Part Of You, the ever developing Successive Waves and the virtuoso delight that is Winter’s Solace.

It would however be futile to attempt to express the depth and breadth of this release in just a few paragraphs. Nor would it serve to highlight individual performances from each of the musicians. What I would say is that IIII is chock full of cleverly written music, performed by high calibre musicians who display an empathy, not only to each other, but to the music as a whole.

As with Long Goodbye, Esthema’s crafty use of Western jazz influences, with a trans-global rhythmic backdrop combined with Eastern European modal scales, gives their sound its rather unique flavour. Music that truly deserves the title “World” to be attached to it. A truly enjoyable album that ticks so many boxes for me…

PROG Magazine: Courageous explorations that cross boundaries and stretch the imagination

March 2019

It is truly surreal when your name is whispered within the pages of an internationally distributed magazine, PROG with the likes of Dream Theater, Neal Morse, Jethro Tull and so many more.

The February 2019 edition of PROG is now on newsstands and this is what Grant Moon had to say about Esthema's IV:

Thank you to Grant and PROG for the continued support!!!!

Highlands Magazine Review & Interview

March 2019

For all our French speaking friends, check out the latest review of Esthema's IV in Highlands Magazine, the France based progressive rock magazine!!! You can find it posted on our reviews page.

And in the same issue, check out the interview with Andy and long time supporter and Highlands Magazine writer Didier Gonzalez. The interview is posted on our features page.

A sincere thanks to Didier and everyone over at Highlands Magazine for the continued support.

Fireworks Magazine Interview

March 2019

Earlier this year, Andy got a chance to sit down with Nicky from Fireworks Magazine to talk about Esthema's latest mucical endeavor, IV for their spring edition.

Visit us at our Facebook page for the complete interview. And if you get a chance to pick-up a copy of the magazine, our composition 'Part of Me, Part of You' is included in the CD Sampler.

A sincere thanks to Nicky Baldrian and everyone over at Fireworks for their support. To be a part of the same magazine as the likes of Whitesnake, Queensryche, Dream Theatre and Yngwie Malmsteen is another humbling experience.

Esthema reach new heights with their fourth CD

March 2019

Please take a moment to see what longtime Esthema supporter and music reviewer, Billy Copeland has to say about Esthema's IV in his recent review "Esthema reach new heights with their fourth CD."

Boston’s exotic prog-rock band Esthema are on a roll. Their fourth CD, simply titled IV, has just dropped, and it dives even deeper into the tones, colors, and texture of songs than the band ever has before. Rubbing their melodic lines more briskly together, this quintet bring into their music into newer, darker and sometimes more celebratory shades. Their instrumentation is as edgy and complex as ever, and it’s impossible, as ever, to second guess where they might be taking a piece as they follow their own individualized melodies and grooves.

The band titled this album IV for reasons other than it is their four full length release. It is also representative of the four main compositions that make up the album. The concept of four started taking shape after the band had finished writing and arranging, track five, “Successive Waves.” The composition has four very distinct sections that are tied by a very thin but common thread. At that point, the members of Esthema started contemplating their whole concept of four at that point and the interconnectedness of the various sections of the album.

Aside from their concepts, it s what Esthema does with their compositions and instruments that bring their musical vision to life. It’s the Esthema way of blending notes and melodies from their instruments to arrive at something new that marks their sound. Esthema is the line up of guitarist Andy Milas, Violinist Onur Dilisen, oud and bouzouki player Mac Ritchey, bassist Tom Martin, and drummer George Lernis.

Opening track “Be” combines rippling acoustic guitar notes with a violin line that haunts the mind with its surrealistic underpinnings. A bouzouki chimes in, making it all sound foreign and exotic over an assertive, beat driven groove. Acoustic instrument notes nudge this piece forward with a spiraling momentum. Instead of merely traveling in a straight line, the notes do their own dance, circular motion, within the direction of the piece. One focuses on the rhythm section beneath the upper register instrument lines and realize that drummer and bass player are peppering this with their own nuances. When the five piece shift tempos, their interplay becomes even more complex as it takes on sharper edges.

“interlude i’ shifts tones to a more otherworldly vibe as an introduction to the third track “Part Of Me, Part Of you.” This one moves like a snake, sometimes coiled tight with hefty bass notes and dark violin moods, sometimes slowly sprawling around the groove. Esthema take dark tones, exotic expression, and shifting tempos to create a sense of madness that could be taking place inside an artist’s mind. They also slow it down to let more of the rippling acoustic notes pour out like raindrops as a violin line hints at intrigue. Contrast is another strength of this prog rock outfit. Their use of a hollow drum sound beneath bits of bass notes and snaking violin conjures images of a crowd of people who each of their own moves to make in around a market place.

“interlude ii” ushers in a dark wave of slow moving sound, a harrowing introduction to “Successive Waves.” Beginning with descending acoustic guitar notes, a melancholy violin melody, and a silent back drop, this one gives an eerie, dire feeling up and down the back of one’s neck. What sudden roller coaster shift will they take next one might wonder. Yet, they keep it mellow but change the tone and approach. Adept, light touches on the drums and cymbals as well as delicate finger picking on a bass guitar give the sense of a trench coated man slipping in and out of dark ally ways to avoid notice. After the Esthema boys set up this drama, they adeptly switch gears once more, pulling one into an adventurous and hurried tempo. The person once walking in stealth might now be running for his life. Rock and roll never sounded this exotic and interesting. With the quickened tempo comes a tighter interplay between instruments. That bouzouki gets picked for all the Mediterranean melody its worth.

“interlude iii” offers a nugget of acoustic guitar expression, a line of brittle little notes that are packed with tender emotion. It’s also a fitting introduction to the close out track “Winter Solace.” Here, a down tempo violin ride widens the scope of the introduction by sprawling over the sonic landscape. Nuggets of acoustic guitar notes serve as the chords of the violin before whistling as pretty a melody. It eventually assumes a climbing structure, reaching upward in tempo, dynamics, and edge while remaining fairly low key, changing the mood and feel without leaping into a whole new presentation.

Esthema, with IV, have proven once again that they are masters of originality. Although this album can be labeled prog-rock, it can also be labeled acoustic rock, and it could also be called international music. Taking some of the most interesting instruments and tones in the world and injecting them into a complex prog-rock format proves a winning idea for Esthema.

We are truly humbled by the kind and thoughtful words.

Thank you Billy for the continued support!

And then there was IV

February 2019

IV (aka IIII) is now available everywhere you get your music for purchase (physical), download, and/or streaming: CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc…Before purchasing, you can listen on YouTube. Check out "Part of Me, Part of You."

Quick note, some retailers (i.e. iTunes, Amazon) automatically label songs that are longer than 10 minutes as “Album Only.” This only affects the purchase of individual downloads, not if you are purchasing the entire album or streaming the compositions.

We hope you enjoy the new record.

IV Review: 'Esthema is an excellent band to discover'

January 2019

Before even the release of our new record, check out the advanced copy review of Esthema's IV in Prog Archives:

The prime mover of the highly acclaimed USA prog folk formation Esthema (which means emotion in Greek) is Andy Milas, he got the band together in 2006. One year later they released their first CD, Apart From The Rest, followed by Hereness And Nowness Of Things (2009), Long Goodbye (2014) and recently IIII (2018). Here is a small cascade of praise from the music press about Esthema their eclectic folk sound: 'this first album is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European - and Middle Eastern traditional music', 'these two recordings have already marked them as maestros of their instruments and as masters of world fusion like no one has ever done before', 'Listening to their work is like hearing and feeling the heartbeat of the planet.', 'A world-class collaboration of the highest order' and 'Once again, Esthema dazzles.' 'beautifully produced third album Long Goodbye is a relentlessly classy and high-minded affair but with a knowing rock vibe.', 'this accomplished sextet, who hail from Boston richly deserve to be heard' and 'Esthema's Long Goodbye is a rich progressive rock record that harnesses classic and modern sounds.' Wow, that sounds very welcoming, to say the least!

For me this is one of the very few progrock reviews about a band without keyboards. But on the other hand I am a huge fan of flamenco, Andean - and Rumanian folk and Dutch progrock formation Flairck. So when I stumbled upon Esthema on the Forum and read about their music I got very interested, contacted the band and received their new CD entitled IIII, via the socalled Dropbox. The album contains 4 long suites and 3 very short interludes (from atmospheric sonic landscapes to fragile acoustic guitar play). These four very long pieces range from 10 to 13 minutes, did Esthema succeed to keep my attention? Yes!

Esthema their sound is build upon wonderful work on violin and oud (the Middle East lute), blended with acoustic guitars, bass and percussion. In the dreamy parts Dutch prog folk band Flairck comes to my mind (tender acoustic guitars and melancholical violin), very pleasant, often warm music. In the more virtuosic guitar parts I hear echoes from Al DiMeola his world music and the acoustic John McLaughlin, but less self-indulgent. An extra dimension is the omnipresent sound of the distinctive oud, giving a sultry Middle East flavour to the music.

My highlights.

From dreamy to more dynamic with outstanding interplay between the violin, guitars and percussion. Halfway an excellaration with an exciting, strongly build-up electric guitar solo (featuring elements from Django Reinhardt and John Mc Laughlin), from senstitive to raw and fiery in Be.

Awesome work on the oud, evoking the Morish inspired world of the Spanish flamenco (like the Zambra Mora) in the most Middle East sounding composition Part Of Me, Part Of You.

From dreamy like Flairck to an accellaration with propulsive percussion and again awesome interplay between an intense oud and swirling violin. The music culminates in a bombastic final part with dynamic interplay between all the instruments in Successive Waves.

And the final track Winter's Solace delivering a lush instrumentation (guitars, violin, bouzouki and assorted percussion) and a slow rhythm with a gypsy sounding violin that sings like a nightingale, so beautiful!

If you like world music, folk music or ethnic music, or you are interested in exotic instruments (like the oud and bouzouki) Esthema is an excellent band to discover (from Boston, the city from my favourite baseball team Boston Red Sox, winner of the 2018 World Series): let you carry away with this often compelling musical encounter of Western - and Eastern Europe, performed by excellent musicians, highly recommended!

A sincere thanks TenYearsAfter and Prog Archives for the continued support!!!

Happy New Year - Esthema's IV Released

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year to all!!!

Released today, Esthema's IV (aka IIII):

A sincere thanks to everyone that has supported us through the years and continues to do so. It is a true labor of love and we are humbled by the support we receive. We especially want to thank Rebecca for her design, dedication and friendship; Mac, for working tirelessly to get it just right; Marshall for capturing our good side and you, for being there and listening.

Esthema IV Updates

March 2018

Esthema's new CD, Esthema IV is currently being worked on. Mixing of the first three compositions (Winter's Solace, Successive Waves, & Part of Me, Part of You) is underway at Possum Hall with engineer extraordinaire Mac Ritchey.

We wanted to give everyone a little taste of Winter's Solace

We hope you enjoy!!! More to come soon.