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The 2018 release of IV, continues to break new sonic ground

August 2019

The follow-up album CD to the 2015 album by Esthema, the 2018 release of IV, continues to break new sonic ground for the Boston-area band. Led by guitarist / composer Andy Milas, on their new one, Esthema features four extended tracks separated by several short interludes. With all the music written, arranged and produced by the band, IV features solid performances by long time members, including Andy Milas on guitars, backed up by Onur Dilisen (violin), Mac Ritchey (oud, bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass) and George Lernis (drums, percussion). One of the finest bands merging prog-rock, New Age instrumentals and jazz with traditional music from the Balkan region and the Near and Middle East, the modern fusion sound of Esthema is a splendid choice for fans of contemporary instrumental music.

- Robert S. Silverstein, MWE3.com

I really dig it.

June 2019

Esthema is an American progressive/folk outfit hailing from Boston. The band formed in 2006 and shortly after released their 2009 debut Apart From The Rest. That same year came The Hereness and Nowness of Things followed by Long Goodbye (2014) and their most recent effort IIII (2018). I had not heard the band before delving into their latest offering.

This is definitely pretty unique stuff as the band forges new paths into progressive and ethnic folk music. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sounds, flamenco and jazzy bits all play a hand here and the musicianship is very good.

The album consists of seven tracks; four long suites broken up by three very short interludes. The first track “Be” begins with mellow acoustic guitar, very well played, before the insertion of violin. Ethnic flavourings are added, the use of oud along with flamenco guitar help in that regard and the tempo fluctuates between slow and faster assaults. The playing is superb and the song has a great ebb and flow. Of similar ilk is “Part of Me, Part of You” but with an even more ethnic bent, the violin and oud interplay is fantastic creating some fascinating soundscapes. The quicker rhythmic tempos highlight the band’s talent. The slower parts reinforce the careful use of restraint as the band plays in harmonious bliss. The soundscapes vary from dreamy to intense, allowing the quintet to fully explore their creative sensibilities. The other two long plays are excellent as well.

Esthema is recommended to prog fans willing to explore ethnic and folk sounds, perhaps stepping out of the box towards more intriguing possibilities. I really dig it.

- Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility

They devote their gift wholeheartedly to create delicate, sensitive and moving pieces of Art.

June 2019

Esthema, hailing from Boston, USA, is a multi-cultural ensemble consisting of classically trained musicians ranging from America, Turkey and Cyprus. Operating in the instrumental, progressive rock, jazz fusion field they devote their gift wholeheartedly to create delicate, sensitive and moving pieces of Art. This, their forth album purposely titled IIII, is another testament to their exceptional skills as musicians (individual and combined) and composers.

Wedged in-between four substantial tracks are short, intimate, ambient soundscapes/finger exercises, and it's the four intricate world-music inspired entities responsible for the overall mood. And while at first glance, Esthema may sound like the equivalent of a small conservatory chamber quintet demonstrating their unique talent, (which they do to me), they progressively revealed to behold much more on further listening.

Harmonious, guiding bass defines a fluent, earthy foundation to which conventional acoustical instruments such as guitar, violin and jazzy drums add a warm, intimate, comforting and homely atmosphere. Further carefully-arranged dynamics of Middle Eastern traditional instruments like the Oud and Bouzouki, alongside meticulous hand-percussion, provide a rich sound and engaging melodies.

The apparent improvisational character of the tracks is filled with an eye to detail, and their execution has been well thought-out and timed with utmost precision; as if rehearsed to perfection. Where classical violin symphonies fill one with sadness, they also successively lift you up with the coldness of winter or embrace you with a glowing warmth from the inside. The laid back yet enthralling vibrant rhythms and structures created by the acoustic guitar, playfully drive the tracks forward or suggestively slowly fade into gentle, caressing movements.

The combined amalgamation of sounds breathes life into complex, refined tracks, giving a rhythmic flow of endless pictures and sceneries, which is most evident on Successive Waves. Giving way to imagery, the slow, pulsating, meditative bass interacts with percussion and middle eastern folklore. Once the intensity picks up, it turns into a oceanic symphony bursting with controlled heartbeats and energy, ending in a beautifully-arranged natural, ambient surrounding.

This is intriguing music to me, and in their field certainly worth investigating. Captivating music for fans of world music, Brian Eno, John McLaughlin and Return To Forever.

- Jan Buddenberg, Dutch Progressive Rock Page (DPRP)

The band forges new paths into progressive and ethnic folk music

May 2019

Esthema is an American progressive/folk outfit hailing from Boston. The band formed in 2006 and shortly after released their 2009 debut Apart From The Rest. That same year came The Hereness and Nowness of Things followed by Long Goodbye (2014) and their most recent effort IIII (2018). I had not heard the band before delving into their latest offering.

This is definitely pretty unique stuff as the band forges new paths into progressive and ethnic folk music. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sounds, flamenco and jazzy bits all play a hand here and the musicianship is very good.

The album consists of seven tracks; four long suites broken up by three very short interludes. The first track “Be” begins with mellow acoustic guitar, very well played, before the insertion of violin. Ethnic flavourings are added, the use of oud along with flamenco guitar help in that regard and the tempo fluctuates between slow and faster assaults. The playing is superb and the song has a great ebb and flow. Of similar ilk is “Part of Me, Part of You” but with an even more ethnic bent, the violin and oud interplay is fantastic creating some fascinating soundscapes. The quicker rhythmic tempos highlight the band’s talent. The slower parts reinforce the careful use of restraint as the band plays in harmonious bliss. The soundscapes vary from dreamy to intense, allowing the quintet to fully explore their creative sensibilities. The other two long plays are excellent as well.

Esthema is recommended to prog fans willing to explore ethnic and folk sounds, perhaps stepping out of the box towards more intriguing possibilities. I really dig it.

- Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility

Esthema’s ‘IV’ is a true work of musical art that should receive major attention and recognition for its fine arrangements, production & instrumentation

May 2019

This band is truly something spectacular transcending mundane mainstream music and creating a musical montage that is both rich in substance & texture. Esthema is comprised of five members: Andy Milas on guitar, Onur Dilisen on violin, Mac Ritchey on oud & bouzouki, Tom Martin on bass and George Lernis on drums & percussion. This talented bunch of musicians incorporates elements of jazz and progressive rock, but in way like I’ve never heard before. This album has a surefire, international feel due to the Eastern and Western influences displayed on the recordings. The songs on ‘IV’ are performed with such extreme flair and carried out with the utmost precision.

The entire record is produced, written and arranged by Esthema and I can honestly tell you that the finished product is very clean and professionally done. As a fully instrumental body of work, this album contains four long-form compositions and three short interludes. I will say that you are in for a treat and an experience when you hit play on Esthema’s ‘IV’.

The record starts up with a track titled “Be” that is an international explosion of sound full of mystique & wondrous imagination. Add in a solid rhythm section, sensational strings and a plethora of tastes for the listener’s palette. “Be” is dynamic and like a musical merry-go-round where you will want a ticket to ride this audible attraction. Track three, “Part of Me, Part of You”, offers a real Middle Eastern vibe and alluring tone. Enter a world that has a gentle yet cautious touch as the song gives off a sense of being consoled while also being careful not to be bitten by the snake. I have to say that there is a very interesting theme in place on “Part of Me, Part of You” that will have your mind on overdrive. Venture into deep space during “interlude ii” where all sorts of notes will be orbiting around your earlobes. This is the perfect set-up for the next installment, “Successive Waves”, that is floating along a calm current with its soothing presence rushing over you. This number supplies a peaceful yet somber melody and even a bit of suspense for good measure. “Successive Waves” has a primitive sounding percussive element displayed on the recording that is distinctively pressed for success. The entire band is really coming together nicely on this song and heating up toward the end with a little bit of Latin flavor mixed in. Take in a charming melody on “interlude iii” that just makes you feel good inside and out. Esthema ends on a strong, brisk note with “Winter’s Solace” where one will receive a mindful, self-reflecting composition. This track moves along effortlessly where a nice ‘n’ steady pace wins the race. “Winter’s Solace” will showcase Esthema nipping at your earbuds with cool direction and icy-fresh measures.

Esthema has been creating stellar music since 2006 with blends of rock and jazz-fusion along with traditional roots of the Balkan region and the near and Middle East. ‘IV’ is actually the band’s fourth project and was released on January 1, 2019. I see this Boston-based band picking up plenty of steam especially after the release of this phenomenal album. Esthema is looking to book shows for the late summer and fall of 2019, so maybe you can catch the guys on the road if they swing by your town. In the meantime, enjoy this music video for “Fire and Shadow” from their previous release, ‘Long Goodbye’:

Esthema’s ‘IV’ is a true work of musical art that should receive major attention and recognition for its fine arrangements, production & instrumentation. Now, I’m hungry for more and so can’t wait to see what this talented group will come up with next!

- Jimmy Rae, Skope Magazine

...an intimate feel and fearless quality all at once

May 2019

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.

- Lee Henderson, Big Beautiful Noise

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

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…

- Bob Mulvey, The Progressive Aspect

Courageous explorations that cross boundaries and stretch the imagination

March 2019

East and West meet once again on IV, the fourth, self-released album from Boston’s Esthema. Exotic instrumentation and scales take us across Eastern Europe and into the Middle East, and the band’s challenging, jazzy time signatures keep their globalista aesthetic well grounded. Theirs are languorous, meditative and courageous explorations that cross boundaries and stretch the imagination.

- Grant Moon, PROG Magazine

Cet Acte IV, au niveau des précédents confirme la classe internationale de cette formation d’exception

March 2019

Esthema reach new heights with their fourth CD

March 2019

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.

- Bill Copeland Music News, Bill Copeland

Esthema is an excellent band to discover

December 2018

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!

- TenYearsAfter, Prog Archives

Long Goodbye:

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

September 2016

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.

- Bill Copeland, Bill Copeland Music News

...gentle and haunting and the firm and dramatic

July 2015

Prolusion. The US band ESTHEMA was formed back in 2006, and released their initial album "Apart From the Rest" the following year, followed by "The Hereness and Nowness of Things". Since the release of that album the band appears to have been reinvented somewhat, with Milas and Dilisin the sole remaining members from the 2009 version of the ensemble. "Long Goodbye" is the name of their third full-length production, self-released in 2014.

Analysis. The self-described aim of this US band is to fuse "the sounds of Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock with the sounds of the traditional music of the Balkan region and the Near & Middle East" – quite the ambitious goal and one that many would summarize in the term of World Fusion. Which isn't all that incorrect, I guess, although it doesn't truly reveal the details of the music at hand here. String instruments are at the core of this band, with violin, cello, guitar, oud and bouzouki taking turns in providing lead motifs, and frequently combining to do so in layered arrangements. The violin and cello are the undeniable stars of the show, due to the haunting sounds produced by these instruments, sounds that tend to dominate music they are used in, unless they are mixed down. That Esthema by preference tends to opt for sounds, scales and expressions with what many here in "the west" would describe as exotic, presumably using eastern scales quite a bit, results in striking arrangements with a strong folk music flavor in general and an eastern one in particular. The band isn't alien to add a few touches of gypsy-sounding jazz movements either however, with cello and violin and then combining quite nicely with the guitar instruments to produce a rather different expression altogether, usually backed up by appropriate bass lines and rhythms when exploring that particular sound. The oud and bouzouki further add exotic flavors to the proceedings, and at least one of them is used extensively to provide what I suspect will fall under the Balkan sound self-described by the band, although to my mind, these details sound fairly similar to Greek and Mediterranean music as well. No matter origins or associations this brings a different feel to the proceedings, whether they are employed in the eastern-sounding or subtly more jazz-oriented escapades, resulting in a sound that at least to some extent can be described as a meeting or a blend of different cultural and artistic traditions. While there's a strong folk and world music tinge to this material, and a lesser, but still present, jazz-orientation now and then, I would also say that a fair few sequences and movements touch base with traditional chamber music and chamber rock. An exotic flavored variety for both the former and the latter, but there are similarities to both to a lesser or greater degree in select passages throughout this production. Those elements, alongside regular drums (when used) and an acoustic guitar that has a stronger tendency to revolve around more familiar sounding musical territory are probably what brings the progressive rock aspect into this music more than anything else, then catering for the rock part of that style description. All of this is assembled into a tight, well executed package, with compositions alternating between the frail and the tight, emotionally gentle sequences and harder edged, dramatic ones. An intriguing journey through musical landscapes that, at least for those more accustomed to Western European music, comes across as exotic and new, even if it is based on old, if not to say ancient, traditions.

Conclusion. While one could describe the music of Esthema in a number of different manners, I guess world fusion is the description that gives the best indication about what to expect from their latest album "Long Goodbye". A production that blend jazz- and Balkan folk-inspired music with tones and scales of a more exotic Middle East origin, with a good balance between the gentle and haunting and the firm and dramatic. Those who find this to be an appealing description or have a general interest in music described as world fusion, may regard themselves as a key audience for this album.

- Olav M Bjornsen, Progressor.net

Esthema builds a new bridge for 21st century instrumental music

April 2015

Based in the Boston area, the band known as Esthema features the sound and vision of guitarist Andy Milas. An excellent example of music based upon 21st century progressive instrumental and World Beat sounds, Esthema gets it all together on their 2014 CD Long Goodbye. The sound of the eight track CD is often times deep and mournful, with the band creating somber moods offset by dazzling musicianship and dramatic music. Backing Milas are some fine players including the string sounds of Naseem Alatrash (cello) and Onur Dilisen (violin), while Mac Richey adds in oud and bouzouki for an even more exotic effect. The rhythm section of George Lernis (drums) and Tom Martin (bass) provides a wonderful anchor to the band’s often soaring sound. Esthema has composed some excellent music on Long Goodbye that matches the skillful craft of these musicians. World Beat sounds with a penchant for exotic instrumental jazz-rock sounds, Esthema builds a new bridge for 21st century instrumental music.

- Robert S. Silverstein, MWE3.com

Esthema is a unique act with clear message and attitude…

April 2015

Out of Boston, Massachusetts, comes a 6 piece band named Esthema, fronted by key person guitarist Andy Milas. They are also acoustic instrumental act, and in its line-up we can find instruments such as a cello, violin or bouzouki. Its discography started out in 2007 year with the album “Apart From The Rest”, followed by “The Hereness And Nowness Of Things” from 2009.

“Long Goodbye” is actual offering with 8 instrumental tracks in. Judging by stylish forms, a band love to combine a several idioms as a fusion, progressive, world music, jazz, and chamber including too. They are also deep into the Balkan and Middle Eastern folk, and all of mentioned influences are present on songs/themes from the album. Many, so call spiritual and emotional elements, posses materials from album. I would also add that 70’s aspect and hidden kraut rock details can be seen on group’s arrangments.

As an album, “Long Goodbye” “distribute” many stories, movies, and unexpected moods as well. Nowadays, we can not find “too many” similar products. Esthema is a unique act with clear message and attitude…

- Branimir Bane Lokner, Barikada

Définitivement superbe.

December 2014

Nous avons récemment évoqué les 2 premières réalisations d’ESTHEMA, APART FROM THE REST (2007) & THE HERENESS AND NOWNESS OF THINGS (2009).

LONG GOODBYE est son 3e opus, où on retrouve Andy MILAS (guitare acoustique) et Onur DILISEN (violon), désormais entourés de Mac RITCHEY, Oud & bouzouki; George LERNIS, batterie & percussion; Tom MARTIN, basse et Naseem ALATRASH, violoncelle.

L’inspiration est toujours à rechercher du côté de l’Europe centrale et méridionale, avec une utilisation prédominante de la guitare acoustique, en arpèges et en accompagnement, tandis que le violon omniprésent délivre une prestation fluide et mélodique (Three Sides To Every Story).

Fire and Shadow (6’49) évoque davantage une incursion au Moyen Orient avec le concours de l’Oud et du bouzouki de Mac RITCHEY, vite rejoints par l’entêtant violon d’Onur DILISEN aux envolées labyrinthiques, rejoint sur ce titre par le violoncelle endiablé de Naseem ALATRASH, conférant une dimension mystérieuse. On songe parfois dans l’approche musicale à SOLSTICE, avec ce mélange intemporel de sonorités à majorité acoustique, garants d’une authenticité musicale. Le mélange assez hétéroclite de ces instruments est savoureux et la complexité de l’écriture musicale une garantie de qualité d’une musique au caractère évolutif, allant résolument de l’avant, mélangeant sonorités traditionnelles avec une rythmique plus rock et marquée sur le final.

Reflections From The Past (9’07) pris sur un tempo lent offre un caractère plus méditatif, tandis qu’on savoure le mélange inédit de l’Oud et du violon. La musique de pure essence acoustique évolue lentement à travers les envolées échevelées d’un violon à la fois lyrique et expressif, avant qu’à l’occasion d’un break, la musique ne s’anime avec l’arrivée du bouzouki et l’entrée en lice d’une section rythmique relevant le niveau dynamique de la musique.

Without A Moment’s Notice (9’22) débute sur un mélange d’Oud, de guitare acoustique et de violon harmonieux relevé par quelques percussions. Une grande sérénité et maîtrise se dégage de cette musique dont le parfum Moyen oriental dévoile des ambiances inédites. Insensiblement la tension monte, l’intensité augmente, la section rythmique offrant quelques figures rythmiques asymétriques, tandis que le violon endiablé continue de mener le bal.

Reminiscence (4’22) débute sur un rythme de gigue, avec toujours le violon aux avantpostes accompagné par le bouzouki et quelques percussions éparses. Dans ce titre, la musique d’ESTHEMA se situe encore davantage au carrefour des musiques d’Europe Centrale et Moyen Orientale, offrant un mélange des plus harmonieux et savoureux. On se laisse progressivement prendre dans les filets de cette musique festive, joyeuse et solaire qui irradie un magnifique sentiment d’harmonie.

Long Goodbye (11’41) entame la quête finale, le grand voyage qu’on devine sans retour vers un ailleurs mystérieux, profond et insondable, aux confluents de l’Europe et de l’Asie. Lente montée du violon, langoureux accompagné de quelques percussions éparses, accompagné par une guitare acoustique soulignant intelligemment le long cheminement du violon, traversé par quelques bienvenues fulgurances rythmiques. Le violon s’emballe davantage ensuite, prenant un caractère plus festif, offrant une musique qui s’anime et s’éclaire. Un voyage constituant une véritable aventure, une épopée. A noter que toutes les compositions sont d’Andy MILAS à l’exception de Reflections From The Past signé George LERNIS et de Reminiscence & Fire And Shadow signés Onur DILISEN.

Avec ce 3è chapitre de sa discographie, ESTHEMA nous propose un nouvel étonnant voyage au coeur d’une musique créative, authentique et originale qui ne laissera aucun mélomane indifférent. Pourvu que vous fassiez preuve d’ouverture, vous y trouveOOrez largement votre compte ! Définitivement superbe.

- Didier Gonzalez, Highlands Magazine

...en voilà une qui m'a bien plu.

November 2014

Je n’ai jamais été amateur des «intrusions venues d’ailleurs» dans un genre musical, le mot «World Music» me donne généralement des boutons. Mais pour le coup, en voilà une qui m’a bien plu. Esthema est un sextette de Boston qui existe depuis 2006, et qui fusionne musiques occidentale et orientale. Cet album est leur troisième.

La touche orientale vient de l’utilisation de l’oud et du bouzouki, qui contractent un mariage plus qu’harmonieux avec une guitare, un violon un violoncelle et une batterie. L’absence de claviers et des nappes rafraichissantes qu’ils pourraient fournir laisse quelques fois la gorge sèche, mais la séduction qui s’installe grâce aux beaux accords de guitare et aux cordes (surtout le violoncelle, je fonds toujours en entendant cet instrument) compense largement le manque.

La pièce de résistance (dommage, peut-être, qu’ils l’aient mise au début) est une suite en trois parties, Three Sides To Every Story, axées sur un thème musical commun, et qui installe l’auditeur bien calé dans un confortable fauteuil sonore. Ce fauteuil, je ne l’ai quitté qu’à la fin du CD, pas une longueur, pas une seconde d’ennui.

Je n’écouterais pas ça tous les jours, mais le fait est que celui-ci était le bon pour moi. A essayer.

- Christian Barbier, Prog Resisté

Another brilliant work by Esthema

October 2014

Esthema is back to PR&PM! Esthema is an instrumental world fusion ensemble from Boston (MA, USA) that since 2006 has been refining a musical style that blends Jazz-Fusion and Prog-Rock with Traditional Music of the European Balkan Region and the Near & Middle East. Esthema’s first two albums - “Apart From The Rest” (2007) and “The Hereness and Nowness of Things” (2009 - featured at PR&PM in 2011) - were both critically acclaimed and placed the group on internet sites and radio stations specialized in Indie, Fusion and World music throughout the U.S.A., Europe, and Turkey, side by side with acts such as “Herbie Hancock”, “Return to Forever”, “Mahavishnu Orchestra”, “Al Di Meola”, “Paco de Lucia”, “Gipsy Kings”, and “Arvo Pärt”. In June, 2014 Esthema released their third self-produced album, entitled “Long Goodbye”, featuring a renovated line-up: the original members Andy Milas (guitar) and Onur Dilisen (violin) have been joined by Naseem Alatrash (cello), Mac Ritchey (oud & bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass), and George Lernis (drums & percussion). All musicians involved in Esthema have both Western and Eastern influences, derived from their different cultural backgrounds and their academic training. Milas loves Progressive Rock, Metal, New Age, Jazz, Greek & Middle Eastern music; Onur was born in Izmir, Turkey, graduated at the Boston Conservatory in 2009 and became a member of Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra; George Lernis was born in Cyprus, and graduated at Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor in Jazz; Mac Ritchey has studied Turkish and Armenian Music with “Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian”, “Brahim Fribgane”, and “Mal Barsamian”, and plays on groups “35th Parallel” and “The Response”; Naseem Alatrash comes from Beit Sahour, West Bank, has studied at the “Edward Said National Conservatory” in Bethlehem, is a member of the Palestinian National Orchestra, has performed with famous musicians (“Ron Carter”, “Simon Shaheen”, “Jorge Drexler”, “Café Da Silva”, “Leo Blanco”, “Marcel Khalife”), and is interested in Classical, Middle Eastern Music, Jazz and Folk/Rock; and Tom Martin is a demanded bassist with 15 years of experience who has built a solid reputation in the professional musical scene. Each of the new members is capable of contributing to the music of Esthema with new diversity and new concepts, without modifying Esthema’s musical essence and main vision: to transcend geographical and cultural barriers, composing music that sounds unique and familiar to all people around the world. Esthema’s sound is instrumental and electro-acoustic. Middle Eastern rhythms and strings abound. The musicians are able to blend Western and Eastern influences in a cohesive and harmonized way, performing with fluidity and precision some rare and exquisitely crafted melodies and arrangements. Overall “Long Goodbye” has less influences from Latin music than on previous albums (caused by the departure of the South American components), but brings much more of Balkans and Turkish-Arabian Music, wonderfully well-blended with Jazzy motifs and Western Folk elements. The mysterious and introspective atmospheres predominate, instilling in the listener an indistinct sensation of being at the same time in both Western & Eastern hemispheres of the world. “Long Goodbye” has 8 tracks, and opens with the triptych “Three Sides To Every Story”, “Part I” (2:01), “Part II” (8:21), and “Part III” (3:19). This is a very instigating piece that, although dominated by Middle-Eastern modes, is pervaded by a modern Progressive Rock drive furnished by some vigorous guitars and a bed of ambient sounds (which are not produced by synths, but with an electric oud) that are also combined with Classic strings. It will please most fans of Jazz-Rock and R.I.O-styled bands, such as “Univers Zéro”, “Miriodor”, “Gargantua”, “Moraine”, “The Living”, “Mahavishnu”. “Fire and Shadow” (6:49) is darker, driven by bass in Moroccan style followed by equivalent rhythms and strings. This piece evolves by contrasting some vivid moments with introspective parts that are rooted on European tradition. “Reflections From The Past” (9:07) deals with homesickness, mixing the sounds of both American Jazz and Middle Eastern scales and rhythms, with highlights for the bass, the meandering violins, and the Cyprus/Greek vibes that come from acoustic guitars and ouds. Most amazing are two tracks born from the European folkloric roots: “Without A Moment's Notice” (9:22) is driven by a main theme that gets gradually complicated by the addition of acoustic guitars, cello and violin, in a constant metamorphose of melodies, motifs, and emotions; and “Reminiscence” (4:22) is a vivid piece that blends Celtic and Arabian sounds, transmitting a nostalgic feeling. The album ends with the title track “Long Goodbye” (11:41), which deals with the feelings of separation, finitude and death. It is a profound, mysterious and dramatic piece propelled by the increasingly tension supported by the instrumental frame (highlighted by the duel of acoustic guitar against violin and the melancholic cello at the end). Another brilliant work by Esthema, “Long Goodbye” is highly recommended for fans of R.I.O., Jazz Fusion, World Music, Eastern Music, “Avishai Cohen”, “John Zorn”, “Simon Shaheen”, “Laço Tayfa”, “Strunz & Farah”, “Al Di Meola”, “Mahavishnu Orchestra”, “Miriodor”, “Univers Zéro”, “The Living”, “Moraine”, and so on. Band members and collaborators involved in Esthema are: Andy Milas - Guitar; Onur Dilisen - Violin; Naseem Alatrash - Cello; Mac Ritchey - Acoustic & Electric Oud, Bouzouki; Tom Martin - Bass; George Lernis - Drums & Assorted Percussion (riq, hadjira, kanjira, frame drums, darbuka, tambourine, conga, timpani, marimba). Recorded by Peter Kontrimas at PBS Studios, Westwood, MA; Additional Recording at Possum Hall, Carlisle, MA. Mixed by Mac Ritchey at Possum Hall; Mastered by Randy Roos at Squam Sound, Ashland, NH; Produced by Esthema...

- Marcelo Trotta, Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal Brasil

The complex and emotional playing fills the mind with pictures and smells of dusty heat or cold landscapes

October 2014

Esthema are a bunch of working musicians who have come togehter to play in this mainly acoustic fusion ensemble. They are Americans Andy Milas - guitar, Tom Martin - bass, Mac Ritchey - oud & bouzouki, Cyprus born George Lernis - drums & percussion, Palestinian Naseem Alatrash - cello, and Onur Dilisen - violin, who hails from Turkey.

Long Goodbye is their 3rd Album and although there have been a few line up changes, the style remains the same with a blend of all the stringed instruments, underpinned by a solid bass and jazz style drumming but to my ears played on quite a "rock" sounding kit. Starting with the drums, I like the use of the "ride" cymbal that for me has always filled in the sonic upper mid which works a treat on a really good hifi. The "in the room with them" production also ticks all boxes with the drum sound. Played with many tempo changes, the musicianship is a delight to behold and whilst this Bedouinesq combo certainly saves a lot on electricity, the genre definitely wears the Prog T-Shirt.

Instrumental albums can be used as a "background" to polite converstion but this is no musak. The complex and emotional playing fills the mind with pictures and smells of dusty heat or cold landscapes but there is also an extra side which comes in the form of the sleevenotes. Like reading the libretto to a foreign language opera or a wordless ballet, if you listen to the music and read exactly where it is coming from, the rewards add another dimension.

From the opening triptych of 'Three Sides To Every Story' we learn that the inspration is based on misunderstood conversations, through the heartfelt and multi national 'Reflections From The Past' we get the longing for home when travelling, pefectly measured in the combination of Western Jazz and Middle Eastern scales and rhythms. The manner in which humans will remember a comforting story is explored in 'Reminiscence' where the "World Music" tag might start to apply with some fine tabla and a cello solo form planet Bollywood. 'Without a Moment's Notice' is performed by a prog-metal band in an alternative universe, but here the would be shredding guitars and keyboard solos are bashed out on violin, cello, fretless Ouds, and strummy acoustics all being hit over the head with those jazz/rock drums. Album closer and possible centrepiece, 'Long Goodbye' is a very dark affair with its apocalyptic prophecy of impending doom. Music written about the point of knowing of a death to the time it actually happens. This was based on a conversation with a doctor, but could easily apply from any point A to the ultimate B. Heavy stuff, but once you realise this premise even as the last cello note ebbs into the ether, the listener is left fufilled and at rest.

An unusual and fine addition to anyone who enjoys well played music. Period.

- Andrew Halley, DPRP (Dutch Progressive Rock Page)

Esthema’s Multilayered Progressive-World Fusion

September 2014

Esthema is a Boston-based ensemble composed of virtuoso musicians that defy musical boundaries. Although they describe their music as world fusion, the instrumentalists venture into several genres, appealing to world music, fusion and progressive rock fans alike. The reason for this is that they effortlessly combine Middle Eastern and Balkan musical influences and instruments with the energy of a fiery jazz-rock band with guitar, bass and drums. Esthema adds cello and violin into the mix, creating a mesmerizing unique sound.

The album begins with a mini-suite divided into three parts. ‘Three Sides To Every Story, Part I’ establishes the tone for the album with a guitar and bowed instrument intro that leads into a heavier percussive Part 2 with oud and cello improvisations set to a rock beat that reminds me of the great Andalusian progressive rock of the 1970s.

‘Fire and Shadow’ has a clear Middle Eastern rock vibe with electric oud mixed with guitar, violin and cello backed by a vibrant jazz-rock beat.

‘Reflections From The Past’ is a laid back piece with a slow tempo rhythm section where the bass gets to develop introspective lines accompanied by frame drums and bowed instrument melodies.

‘Without a Moment’s Notice’ builds up very nicely with acoustic guitars and bowed instruments that are gradually joined by oud, bass and drums developing into full flown climactic progressive symphonic rock.

‘Reminiscense’ sounds like a delightful acoustic contemporary world music ensemble, where the instrumentalists present outstanding musical interplay.

The album ends with ‘Long Goodbye,’ a composition where we find a chamber atmosphere with moments of calm and meditation, where the cello and violin soar while the frame drum and the bass slow down, creating a calm, hypnotic effect.

Esthema introduces a new lineup fir this recording, including Andy Milas on guitar; Onur Dilisen on violin; Naseem Alatrash on cello; Mac Ritchey on oud and bouzouki; Tom Martin on bass; and George Lernis on drums & percussion.

The band’s earlier recordings include Apart From The Rest and The Hereness and Nowness of Things.

- Angel Romero, Progressive Rock Central

Their beautifully produced third album Long Goodbye is a relentlessly classy and high-minded affair but with a knowing rock vibe.

September 2014

Boston’s Esthema bring a bold pan-national palette to their sound, a fine blend of prog rock, jazz, gypsy and – that all-encompassing tag – world music. Their beautifully produced third album Long Goodbye (esthema.com) is a relentlessly classy and high-minded affair but with a knowing rock vibe. Their dynamic, shifting arrangements are performed on oud, bouzouki, cello, violin and their prog credentials are further assured by the opening tripartite suite Three Sides To Every Story. It’s what the word eclectic was invented for.

- Grant Moon, PROG

...this accomplished sextet, who hail from Boston (Massachusetts) richly deserve to be heard.

August 2014

With the multitude of releases, increasingly so under the progressive banner, it comes as no surprise that many fine albums drift under the radar. Those of a more unusual, experimental and of a wholly instrumental nature may struggle more than others to be noticed and although only released in June I fear one such album might be Esthema’s third album, Long Goodbye. And that would be a real shame, because this accomplished sextet, who hail from Boston (Massachusetts) richly deserve to be heard.

I must admit that prior to receiving Long Goodbye, the band’s third album, I had not come across these guys, but after only a few bars of the opening track I was thinking that if this album continues in this vein then I’m in for a real treat and although the music of Long Goodbye takes us on much more diverse journey, the opening track serves the album well. The album liner notes tell us that the three part opening piece, Three Sides To Every Story, “was inspired by how two individuals can be a part of one conversation but never hear what each other has to say.” Well the conversation here starts in a tranquil setting with the achingly restrained Part I opening with the lightly strummed guitar of Andy Milas shortly afterwards joined by Onur Dilisen on violin. Along with cello from Naseem Alatrash they form a rich bed of strings, serving as a touching back drop for the delightful stringed melody. Only two minutes in duration, but a splendid opening statement.

Again lead by Milas and as Part I segues into Part II the conversation takes on an altogether different tone, becoming increasingly more animated with each of the band members pushing and pulling both musically and rhythmically. Although the album is primarily performed on acoustic instruments, there is no lack of power and dynamic and with a different set of instruments this album could have taken on a truly different skin. One more akin to the more adventurous in the progressive metal field combined with notable exponents drawn from the jazz rock, fusion camps. Another striking element of Esthema’s music, displayed throughout Three Sides To Every Story Part II, is the way it effortlessly moves across the globe, blending the more prominent, Eastern influences succinctly into the West and back again.

As Part II reaches a dynamic conclusion we see the conversation reach a mutual compromise noted by the recapitulation of the main themes and as the track returns to the opening melody – nicely bookending the suite.

From this fine opening Esthema demonstrate a cohesive approach to their music, a music that fuses and encompasses prog, fusion, jazz, chamber, classical, Gypsy, folk and more whilst deriving inspiration from music across the Western, Eastern (including Middle Eastern) hemispheres. Not only do they achieve all of this admirably, but throughout demonstrate an empathy to those genres and ethnic cultures. Although primarily an acoustic album I can envisage Long Goodbye having a broad appeal across a wide spectrum.

The most upbeat track from the album comes in the form of Fire And Shadow and certainly Tom Martin and George Lernis conjure up a driving, if not toe tappingly friendly, pulse to the tune. The middle portion of the track is a more liquid affair with some fine violin bringing to mind the wonderful Akihisa Tsuboy’s more acoustic outings. Whereas the subject matter for Reflections From The Past deals with the emotions of being taken away from loved ones, family and friends and reflected in this darker, atmospheric and more sprawling piece – composed by George Lernis. The jazziest and freeform piece on the album, however as appears to be the nature of Esthema, there’s a stunning, upbeat middle section.

Album favourite comes in the form of the gently undulating Without A Moment’s Notice. A great track, especially on headphones, initially with the intertwining guitar and strings drifting effortlessly together and forming a calming aura. The track is however a slow builder and at the mid point the track takes on a sort of ‘danse macabre’, initially lead off by Tom Martin, but swiftly joined by the rest of the musicians. This is track that needs, deserves and rewards multiple listening sessions as it subtlety reveals its charms – inadvertently demonstrating the band’s obvious understanding of more unusual modes, scales and rhythms, but without losing the essence or beauty of the music. Without A Moment’s Notice closes out, primarily with Andy Milas and Mac Ritchey.

In between the lengthier tracks is a great ensemble piece and the delightful Reminiscence, which derives its inspiration from the retelling of old stories and the joy that they bring. This is in stark contrast to theme of the closing piece and the album’s title track. A sombre but absorbing journey chronicling the passing of a life. Onur Dilisen and Naseem Alatrash superbly capture the darker, concluding moments…

Esthema do have an audio page on their website offering brief samples of each of the tracks, although I’m not entirely sure there is enough to do the tracks justice, but hopefully sufficient to make you seek out this imaginative and cultured band. Finally, like most good music it derives its strength and character from the interaction of the musicians. Esthema have managed this in spades and Long Goodbye joins an ever growing list of fine albums released during 2014.

- Bob Mulvey, The Progressive Aspect

Tutte le composizioni, interamente strumentali, come avrete capito, sono suggestive e di alto livello.

August 2014

Diamo il benvenuto a questo terzo album in studio degli Esthema, band americana che volge il suo sguardo verso mondi lontani, raccogliendone fragranze ed immagini sonore e fondendole insieme in modo inedito e personale. L’arrivo in formazione del violoncellista palestinese Naseem Alatrash e del percussionista cipriota George Lernis (che sostituisce l’uscente Bruno Esrubilsky) è senza dubbio un’opportunità per ampliare i propri orizzonti sonori, come testimonia concretamente “Reflections From the Past”, brano che parla della nostalgia di luoghi e persone care, come quella che si impadronisce di chi ha due case lontane fra loro, come appunto Cipro e gli Stati Uniti. George Lernis, in questa sua composizione, è riuscito a creare un ponte musicale fra terre distanti, ricorrendo a versatili impalcature Jazz e a suoni, ritmi e scale del Medio Oriente. In partenza ecco un soft jazz serpeggiante, scandito dai fruscii della batteria, le note si allungano lentamente come ombre della sera e gli archi sono sospiri appena percettibili. La musica è passionale, nostalgica, eterea e sognante, le melodie hanno un che di classicheggiante ma sono colorate da elementi etnici. Ed ecco infine che il brano prende vita grazie a ritmi cadenzati e allo scintillio del bouzouki e dell’oud che Mac Ritchey (giunto a sostituire Tery Lemanis) suona sia in versione acustica che elettrica.

L’intero album è fatto in realtà di visioni e di meravigliosi paesaggi sonori. E’ più oscuro rispetto ai suoi predecessori (gli ottimi “Apart from the Rest”, l’esordio del 2007, e “The Hereness and Nowness of Things” del 2009) ma anche più pittorico e introspettivo. Come ci spiega il leader e chitarrista Andy Milas, autore della quasi totalità della musica, l’opera si ispira alla dinamica delle relazioni che ci legano alle persone attorno, fatte di empatia ma anche di incomprensioni e contrasti. I diversi elementi musicali sembrano riflettere i mutevoli aspetti dell’animo umano che a volte è fonte di equilibrio ed armonia ed altre volte invece genera tensioni e conflitti. Ogni brano si ispira a episodi e riflessioni della vita reale e ne traduce in musica le emozioni. Sul profilo musicale il folk, dai lineamenti prevalentemente mediorientali ed anatolici, prende vita attraverso le colorazioni speziate mentre i ritmi sono essenzialmente occidentali e di stampo jazz rock. Gli archi (oltre al violoncello c’è il violino di Onur Dilisen, musicista di origini turche) donano alle composizioni un’aura estremamente elegante; a volte sfoggiano un sofisticato taglio accademico ed altre volte riflettono, in modo splendido ed enigmatico, qualcosa della musica araba classica. I diversi stili vengono poi fusi in un insieme armonico e coerente con una chiara attitudine progressiva.

Il lungo addio al quale si riferisce il titolo dell’album è quello che inizia con la diagnosi di una malattia da cui non è possibile guarire. Proprio in quel momento ci si prepara a lasciarsi per sempre in un lento conto alla rovescia. Questo tema è affrontato nell’omonima traccia di chiusura, l’ottava per la precisione, una sinfonia struggente fatta di lunghe pause e di silenzi solcati dalla musica, dolce e drammatica allo stesso tempo. Gli archi sono crepuscolari e arrivano a pungere direttamente il cuore, le percussioni hanno una ritmicità quasi solenne ed i suoni sono oscuri e bloccano per un momento quasi il respiro. A questo scenario se ne alternano altri più densi di chiaroscuri, più spezzettati e quasi Crimsoniani, che rendono questa traccia, dall’emotività incerta ed altalenante, estremamente vitale ed interessante. Il sound è moderno e sfoggia la giusta punta di elettricità e le giuste vibrazioni, rafforzate da tonalità piacevolmente folkish. Sempre basata su emozioni contrastanti è la mini-suite di apertura che si estende nell’arco delle prime tre tracce, “Three Sides to Every Story”. In questo caso, come ben descritto nelle note di copertina, la musica ci dimostra come due individui possano partecipare alla stessa conversazione senza ascoltare cosa si dicono, fornendo due versioni della stessa storia. Ecco quindi un piacevole susseguirsi di visioni malinconiche fatte di arpeggi delicati ed archi flebili ed indugianti e di atmosfere più tese in cui i suoni, in parte elettrici, si affacciano come bussando con insistenza. La batteria si alterna alle percussioni tradizionali, frammenti di musica araba aggiungono un alone di mistero, l’aria sembra quella pungente che preannuncia la tempesta imminente, quando ecco tornare melodie romantiche, ritmi felpati, piccole suggestioni classiche, finché il brano scivola via come un bel sogno che si dissolve alle prime luci dell’alba. “Fire and Shadow”, composta stavolta da Onur Dilisen, sta lì per ricordarci, con i suoi contrasti, che la vita è fatta di alti e bassi. Lenta e ombrosa, quasi gotica, dal drumming preciso e squadrato, cede ad aperture malinconiche e a morbide effusioni jazz. Belle le propulsioni del basso, suonato da un’altra new entry, Tom Martin, giunta al posto di Ignacio Long. Fra le altre tracce spicca poi “Reminiscence” per le sue continue oscillazioni di colori e fragranze, basata questa volta su sequenze più ritmate dalla fisionomia quasi anatolica. Le sue atmosfere da “Mille e una notte” parlano dei ricordi che riaffacciandosi alla mente ci lasciano sul volto un fugace sorriso. A questo punto manca alla nostra disamina soltanto “Without A Moment’s Nitice”, brano disteso e pensieroso che parla di come la vita possa cambiare e non essere più quella di prima, anche quando tutto sembra tornare alla normalità. La sua poesia senza fine, il drumming discreto, le fragili melodie disegnate dagli archi e gli arpeggi luccicanti degli strumenti a corda ne fanno uno splendido dipinto di suoni.

Tutte le composizioni, interamente strumentali, come avrete capito, sono suggestive e di alto livello. Appaiono complesse e fragili allo stesso tempo, sono enigmatiche ed eteree, romantiche ed inquiete. Ogni particolare converge in un sound davvero unico che si giova tra l’altro del contributo prezioso dell’oud elettrico di Mac Ritchey che riesce ad intessere ambientazioni e sfondi sonori molto particolari e senza l’ausilio di sintetizzatori che invece a volte sembra quasi di percepire come uno strano miraggio. Questo album è un viaggio nel nostro cuore e in terre che non esistono, lo consiglio così come a suo tempo ho fatto per i suoi predecessori e lo candido al tempo stesso e inevitabilmente per la mia lista personale di fine anno.

- Jessica Attene, Arelequins.it

Esthema’s Long Goodbye is a rich progressive rock record that harnesses classic and modern sounds.

July 2014

With its short opening track ‘Three Sides To Every Story Part 1′, it’s clear from the start that Esthema have worked hard to bring together a range of instruments to create some provocative prog. As the three part opening section continue, there are all kinds of evocative tones going on through the use of wailing strings that bring in a world music sound by employing more unusual scales that create an eastern feel. By the third movement, things have drawn back to a calmer, laid back sound that draws the album’s triptych opening to its conclusion.

‘Fire and Shadow’ has curious elements of Metallica in its construction, and this is where Esthema’s aesthetic begins to come forward more clearly – the influence of metal is very much here, much like the way the early work of the Cardigans was rooted in a love of Black Sabbath, not that you would have known from first listen. Meanwhile, ‘Reflections From The Past’ makes use of spanish guitars and incredibly dark and textural percussion, and ‘Without A Moment’s Notice’ plays out like a slow number as the sun goes down at a gypsy dance.

Esthema’s music is novel and evocative; instrumental music for people who like to think about what they are listening to and get engaged with it.

- Chris Marsh, CrossRadar and Skope Magazine

After a single listen you'll be hooked.

July 2014

Esthema is an impressive instrumental jazz/World fusion group from Boston Massachusetts which incorporates elements of progressive folk, ambient New Age, avant garde, and Middle Eastern World Music deeply rooted in traditional ethnic Greek, Turkish, and Balkan music. The album plays like an aural travelogue via Gypsy caravan to mysterious and exotic locales.

The music is awash with lush romantic melodies, eclectic Middle Eastern motifs, a touch of foreign intrigue, and a dash of "Larks Tongue In Aspic" era King Crimson, plus some inspired playing from the entire ensemble which includes: Mac Ritchey (acoustic and electric oud & bouzouki), Andy Milas (acoustic and electric guitar), George Lernis (drums & percussion), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Onur Dilisen (violin), Tom Martin (bass).

As with their 2009 album "The Hereness And Nowness Of Things" - which was reviewed here at ProgNaut by reviewer Terry Jackson who sites references to the bands The Gypsy King, California Guitar Trio, and Azigza - I'd add a strong dose of Shadowfax, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and new age artists Jerry Goodman and Jean Luc Ponty for the 2014 release "Long Goodbye".

And on the track "Reminiscence" there is a unique blending of both traditional Celtic and Middle Eastern influences in a sort of Azigza meets Chieftains collaboration.

"Long Goodbye" is for the mature, discriminating prog/rock listener. Someone sophisticated and open minded enough to expand their musical horizons. After a single listen you'll be hooked.

- Joseph Shingler, ProgNaut

…Die Musik klingt für mich immer noch wie der Soundtrack

July 2014

Beim Wegfallen der Oud/Bouzouki-Parts wird die Musik anders klingen, hatte ich noch beim Abschluss des letzten Reviews geschrieben. Nun, mit Mac Ritchey wurde in der Zwischenzeit ein Ersatzmann gefunden, der sich der Oud (Laute) und der Bouzouki angenommen hat. Somit muss man auf Long Goodbye nicht auf das gewohnte Klangbild verzichten. Wenn ich mir das neue Album der Amerikaner so anhöre, erkenne ich eine stille Weiterentwicklung und auch den Gang zu etwas längeren Stücken wie das dreiteilige Three Sides To Every Story oder dem Titeltrack. Die Musik klingt für mich immer noch wie der Soundtrack zu einer fiktiven Geschichte voller Leidenschaft, die sich irgendwo im Nahen Osten abspielen dürfte. Der fernöstliche Einfluss ist allgegenwärtig, in den Akkordfolgen, den solistischen Darbietungen auf Bouzouki oder Geige. Die Musik ist in sich durchaus als progressiv zu verstehen und ich kenne auch keine andere Band, die so klingt wie Esthema. Die Faszination an dieser Formation dürfte in dieser Hinsicht ihre Monopolstellung sein.

Fazit: Esthema sind einen Ausflug wert, für jene, die mal gerne über den Tellerrand hinaus schauen wollen und für Experimente offen sind. Musik zwischen fernöstlichem Folk und Jazz.

- Daniel Eggenberger, Proggies.ch (Switzerland), The Swiss Progressive Rock Portal

…each of Esthema’s song evokes emotions

June 2014

This is not a recording I would normally seek out and that’s why it’s an extra treat for me that Esthema’s Long Goodbye was assigned to me… With their exquisite fusion of Balkan, Near/Middle Eastern with jazz, prog, classical, I feel like their music takes me into faraway, exotic lands. Along with the gorgeous instrumental cultural/world music meldings, each of Esthema’s song evokes emotions through their stunning and intricate arrangements. Though the CD info includes a description of what these eight tracks mean, I wouldn’t have to read it to ascertain what the story is for each—that’s how expressive it is, that’s how you do it—wordlessly conveying the meaning of a song or just bringing out those feelings in the listener. I am in awe of these musicians and their talent and am enraptured by how they’ve composed their songs. The instruments featured in this sextet’s music include the cello, violin, bass, guitar, drums, and percussion, oud, and bouzouki. Standouts: “Three Sides to Every Story, Part II”—love how it seamlessly evolves the genres; beautiful integration of styles; “Fire and Shadow”—cool and alluring; “Reflections From the Past”—wonderful strings and another emotionally evolving song; and the elegant “Long Goodbye.”

- Debbie Catalano, The Noise - Boston

The compositions and arrangements are so well done it's something that really needs to be heard; once you hear I know you'll understand.

June 2014

Esthema have released their 3rd CD entitled Long Goodbye. This instrumental release includes the following musicians and instrumentation: Mac Ritchey (oud and bouzouki), Andy Milas (guitar), George Lernis (drums & percussion), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Onur Dilisen (violin), and Tom Martin (bass).

I did something I try to not do before writing a review; read the press release info. The phrase "world fusion ensemble" is used. The term "world music" may send some people running away or may bring them closer; it's kind of loaded. In this case, that term alludes to choices of instrumentation, scales, and rhythm. Upon first listen I imagined progressive metal without distorted guitar or keyboards because there are some unusual time signatures, tempo changes, and multi-part compositions - all frequent components of progressive metal. With a second listen I noticed classical-sounding symphonic arrangements and melodies. There are "fusion" moments where a solo is traded between different instruments within a piece which is a jazz component.

There are many strong melodies on Long Goodbye and all I could think of to describe these is the word "emotional." They are sweet, heart-felt, almost romantic - emotional. The compositions and arrangements are so well done it's something that really needs to be heard; once you hear I know you'll understand.

The fact that I personally can't really discern between an oud and a bouzouki doesn't dull the experience. The interplay between violin, cello, oud/bouzouki provides a warm, encompassing feel; symphonic in the way Yes and Genesis are described as "symphonic progressive rock." The mixing is almost perfect; you can hear the rolls on the ride cymbal and the thickness of the bass and everything in-between. I actually dialed down the bass when I was listening to this in my car in order to hear more of the other instruments.

"Fire and Shadow" contains one example of the lush, emotional harmonies brought together by the cello, violin and oud/bouzouki. "Reflections From the Past" contains musical influences brought to the band from the backgrounds of the band members; Cyprus, Palestine, Turkey, etc…

"Without A Moment's Notice" features some of the greatest rhythmic challenges on Long Goodbye, and the "progressive rock" influence is obvious and welcome. The ensemble playing on this track makes it one of the best of the CD. The opening trio "Three Sides to Every Story" is a great way to begin as the exotic melodic line in Part I which is repeated in Part III sets the tone for what is yet to come.

Long Goodbye could be played at a cocktail party, on your headphones, or anywhere in between. Multiple listens yield multiple experiences as there is plenty to digest but not laboriously so. This is a terrific CD by extremely talented musicians and the compositions are deep and wide with awesome performances.

- Ryan Good, Sea of Tranquility

...a symphonic suite-like concept of improvisation

June 2014

Members (Mac Ritchey) play instruments like bouzouki, acoustic and electric oud, and that patterns of Middle Eastern music can be found in their general approach, of new fusion has become much more that of an all-world fusion, with a symphonic suite-like concept of improvisation, with some keyboard textures in the beginning to fill up space, and with a drum/bass/cello power that makes their music more like modern chamber-(music) rock. In several parts the band almost waltzes it’s power up, with pickings, more pickings being added, then with chamber string arrangements in combination with oud (and drum of course). Other calmed down passages are led by violin with acoustic pickings, and still a fusion-based, warm podium chamber-feel, followed by more full chamber ensemble arrangements. The themes are well worked out in circular variations. “Fire and Shadow” has a nice emotionality shown in the violin lead, while the rest of the band accompanies and gives it a warm full chamber fusion band bed of arrangement, at the end of the first track evolving to have more power too. In the second part there’s an electric bass lead with Persian percussion, then a rather Turkish theme has been repeated with drum/chamber music/bouzouki lead. “Without A Moment's Notice” is a lament led by acoustic pickings, string arrangements/improvisations and bouzouki, bass and drums, with an up tempo groovier cello-led and then violin-led part with chamber music work-out before concluding again with the picking theme. “Reminiscence” sounds like a medieval Turkish-based theme, somewhat improvised upon. “Long Goodbye” is a romantic closer led by a violin/cello duet, accompanied by pickings, bass and Persian percussion.

- Gerald Van Waes, PsycheMusic.org

The Hereness and Nowness of Things:

Ihre Musik hat da ein ganz eigenes Flair

April 2014

Einst sagte Dan Aykroyd von den Blues Brothers: Die Wege des Herrn sind unergründlich. Diese Aussage dürfte sich auch ohne weiteres auf Esthema’s Variante des Progressive Rocks übertragen. Ihre Musik hat da ein ganz eigenes Flair. Nachdem ich bis heute mit tonnenweise Material im Retrogewand, New Artrock etc bombardiert geworden bin, ist es eine Wohltat, mal was komplett anderes zu hören. Das Quintett aus Boston besteht aus Drums, Bass, Gitarre, Geige und Bouzouki, Oud (Laute) und versteht es, einen Mix aus Jazz/Fusion, Folk und traditioneller Musik aus dem Balkan bzw dem Nahen Osten zu kombinieren. Viele Mollakkorde prägen das Klangbild und nicht wenig mögen die Melodieabfolgen wie eine Art Geschichte zu erzählen. Als Kern der Truppe verstehen sich Gitarrist Andy Milas und Geiger Onur Dilisen. Auf den ersten beiden Cd’s prägt vorallem aber auch das Bouzouki/Oud-Spiel von Tery Lemanis das Klangbild. Das Besetzungskarussell hat sich mittlerweilen etwas gedreht und die nächste Cd von Esthema wird durch das Wegfallen der Bouzouki/Oud-Parts wohl etwas anders klingen.

Fazit: Esthema bieten auf Apart From The Rest und The Hereness And Nowness Of Things den perfekten Soundtrack zu einer Art World Music meets Progressive Rock.

Wenn ihr mal reinhören wollt in die Welt von Esthema, dann besucht doch mal ihre sehr informative Website: http://www.esthema.com. Eine neue Cd ist bereits in Arbeit und wird demnächst erscheinen.

Daniel Eggenberger, Proggies (Switzerland)

Le intersezioni musicali si infittiscono nel secondo album degli Esthema...

April 2014

Le intersezioni musicali si infittiscono nel secondo album degli Esthema con l’arrivo di una nuova sezione ritmica composta ora dall’argentino Ignacio Long al basso e dal batterista brasiliano Bruno Esrubilsky, anche se la via maestra rimane quella che collega l’Oriente all’Occidente, la tradizione con l’innovazione attraverso la rilettura di tematiche folk mediorientali e balcaniche filtrata alla luce brillante del jazz e del progressive rock. Gli spartiti sono ancora quelli di Andy Milas e la sua chitarra, assieme all’oud e al bouzuki di Teri Lemanis, caratterizza fortemente il sound di una band che si conferma estremamente interessante anche in questa nuova uscita. Un leggero tocco classico è fornito ancora dall’ispirato violino di Onur Dilisen che all’occorrenza si avvolge di preziose vesti arabeggianti. In un paio di episodi troviamo anche il violoncello dell’ospite Robyn Ryczek che, in “Arrythmia” soprattutto, attenua molto le atmosfere rendendole sognanti e languide. Forse è proprio la sezione ritmica a fare un po’ la differenza con la sua flessuosità e le trame jazz appena più accentuate, anche se una maggiore versatilità si percepisce in modo diffuso rendendo l’esperienza di ascolto ancora più stimolante. In tal senso sono molto intriganti le parti soliste, con momenti di improvvisazione, specie quando a sostenerle sono gli strumenti etnici che offrono tonalità jazzy dal sapore insolitamente speziato, come nella splendida traccia di apertura, “Change of Season”, ottimo biglietto da visita per il gruppo. Non c’è dubbio che questa musica, al di là degli evidenti meriti artistici e tecnici, susciti una certa empatia, come dimostrato dall’ampio spazio trovato in numerose stazioni radiofoniche internazionali, fatto questo rilevato anche dalla International Association of Independent Recording Artists (IAIRA) che ha certificato il pezzo “Eastern Dance” come top 10 internazionale. Questa traccia in particolare possiede colorazioni etniche accentuate che sembrano portarci in terra turca, ricordando qualcosa dei Moğollar, con una base ritmica in evidenza. Ma non sempre la provenienza geografica è così precisa e ogni pezzo è attraversato da sensazioni cangianti, come ad esempio “Illusion and Truth” con suggestioni ora latine, ora mediterranee, arricchita al tempo stesso da scintillanti ornamenti mediorientali, o come “Forward Motion”, a metà strada fra Grecia ed Arabia. In evidenza sono sempre i disegni melodici che si sviluppano lentamente e con grazia e che riescono a vincere persino la bellezza delle singole prove strumentali e la particolarità degli elaborati arrangiamenti. Al tempo stesso le atmosfere sono molto avvolgenti, decisamente scenografiche a volte, e mi piace citare in questo caso la conclusiva “On & On”, con le sue struggenti parti di violino, i caldi arpeggi degli strumenti acustici, le parti elettriche soft fusion ed il suo appeal da colonna sonora. Con tutti i suoi colori e le tante contaminazioni questo album è un esempio di perfetto equilibrio fra fruibilità e complessità e di piacevole integrazione di schemi sonori e linguaggi diversi, in grado di incontrare i gusti di un pubblico davvero ampio senza scadere in facili ruffianerie. Mi auguro quindi che molti di voi possano avere il piacere di ascoltarlo, rimanendo in attesa di nuove notizie da parte di un gruppo molto valido e in continua crescita.

Alberto Nucci, Arlequins (Italy)

...américains ont parfaitement intégrés la sensibilité de ces régions du monde

April 2014

ESTHEMA est un ensemble instrumental originaire de Boston qui a créé une sonorité unique depuis 2006 en mélangeant des éléments de jazz/fusion et du prog rock avec les tonalités des Balkans ainsi que du Proche et du Moyen Orient. Le line-up du premier CD, Apart From the Rest, datant de 2007 est composé de Andy Milas (guitares électriques et acoustiques), Onur Dilisen (violon), Tery Lemanis (bouzouki), Jack Mason (basse) et Carl Sorensen (batterie et percussions). Pour la plaque de 2009, The Hereness and Nowness of Things, Jack est remplacé par Ignacio Long à la basse tandis que la batterie est tenue par Bruno Esrubilsky. Avec des références nettes vers les sonorités traditionnelles turques ou même grecques, la musique s’avère très agréable à écouter. On peut également y trouver des références à Al Di Meola. Tous les amateurs d’ambiances de type tzigane et des régions méditerranéennes de notre chère Europe peuvent se plonger avec délectation dans l’écoute de ces ré-éditions car ces américains ont parfaitement intégrés la sensibilité de ces régions du monde.

Arkanius, Prog Résiste (Belgium)

un album encore plus riche et bien plus abouti...

April 2014

On retrouve nos musiciens du monde super doués pour un second album paru en 2009, séquencé en 8 titres. Quelques changements au niveau de la formation avec un nouveau batteur du nom de BRUNO ESRUBILSKY, originaire de Rio De Janeiro, encore un diplômé de l'académie de Los Angeles et du Berklee College of Music, musicien d’expérience. Egalement, on salue l’arrivée d’un nouveau bassiste IGNACIO LONG, originaire de Patagonie en Argentine qui étudie la basse à Buenos Aires, puis s'installe à Boston, musicien complet dans tous les registres musicaux. On note deux musiciens invités, KARIM GEORGES au doumbek, un genre de tambour en forme de gobelet utilisé au Moyen Orient ainsi que ROBYN RYCZEK au violoncelle. Deux éléments qui apportent vraiment du nouveau chez ESTHEMA. Fort de son 1er album classé dans les 25 meilleurs enregistrements indépendants, ESTHEMA se met immédiatement au travail pour THE HERENESS AND NOWNESS OF THINGS, un album encore plus riche et bien plus abouti, puisant sa source en Grèce, Moyen Orient, Turquie, le groupe a bien évolué et dans le bon sens. ANDY MILAS a branché sa guitare sur l’électricité, surtout sur le morceau final On And On, assez rock, un style que le groupe promet de prolonger sur le prochain cd, une idée excellente qui augure vraiment bien de la suite, MAHAVISHNU et WEATHER REPORT étant de bonnes influences. Dans l’ensemble, on retrouve les mêmes ambiances que sur l’album précédent. Cependant, on salue l’utilisation originale du doumbek ainsi que celle du violoncelle amenant une touche de symphonisme (Change Of Seasons), avec également d’inspirées parties de violon. Comme sur l'album précédent, ANDY MILAS se pose en leader car c'est encore lui qui a pratiquement tout écrit, à l’exception de Four Colors qu’on doit à ONUR DILISEN, le violoniste dont l’instrument tient une large place, ANDY MILAS prenant quelques arpèges électriques sur ce très beau titre qui mélange jazz et musique turque, pays où ONUR a ses racines. Arrhytmia est plutôt argentin avec des bases de tango tragique et une partie de violoncelle, tandis qu’Easter Dance est une danse orientale agrémentée par le bouzouki de TERRY LEMANIS, la guitare acoustique ainsi que par le violon. Ambiance flamenco conférée par l’instrumentation de Foward Motion, un morceau très inspiré où on remarque l’excellent jeu du batteur dont la frappe se rapproche assez de celle de BILL BRUFORD. En conclusion, un album en progression par rapport au précédent. ESTHEMA tourne dans le Massachusetts et dans la région de New York et a un projet d’album live.

Jean-Pierre SCHRICKE, Highlands Magazine (France), Issue 64

...a blend that is as enjoyable as it is inspiring.

June 2011

This American band features a trio of guitar (electric and acoustic), violin, and oud / bouzouki backed by electric bass and drums, plus guests on percussion and cello. The lead role is most commonly with the oud or bouzouki and the violin, with the guitar in support. All of the compositions are original, though they could easily pass for Middle Eastern traditional tunes given modern arrangements — and I mean that as the highest praise. It’s completely instrumental and more live-sounding than, for instance, Mawwal, and more accessible than some of Rabih Abou-Khalil’s music, being infused as it is with more rock (even progressive rock) and less jazz. Perhaps it’s misleading to call Esthema an American band, for while they are based in Boston, members hail from Turkey, Brazil, and Argentina as well as the US; all have connections to either the Berklee College of Music or the Boston Conservatory. It is international in the best way, freely mixing various traditions with superb taste and skill, producing a blend that is as enjoyable as it is inspiring. Too bad cultures can’t blend politically as peacefully as they do musically in Esthema.

Jon Davis, Expose

“The Hereness and Nowness of Things” is a brilliant work...

January 2011

Esthema is a world fusion ensemble from Boston (MA, USA). Born in 2006, the group forged their unique style blending elements of Jazz and Progressive Music with the Traditional Music of the Eastern European Balkan Region, and the Near/Middle East. The excellence and variety of Esthema‘s music derive from the academic knowledge and cultural origin of each of its integrants. Onur Dilisen (violin) was born in Turkey. In 2002 he moved to Boston to study at the Longy School of Music, graduating in 2005. Onur likes Blues, Latin, Jazz, Rock, Metal, Greek, and Turkish/Middle Eastern music. Tery Lemanis (oud, bouzouki) was born in Boston. He graduated at Berklee College of Music, and has studied Byzantine and Greek music in Athens, Greece. Lemanis also plays on “The Brain Police” (“Zappa” tribute); and on “Dancing Gypsy Band“, “Dudochka”, and “The Lemanis Ensemble” (of Traditional Middle Eastern music). Bruno Esrubilsky (drums, percussion), was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He moved to LA in 2004 and graduated from the Los Angeles Music Academy. There he learned from Brazilian master “Pascoal Meirelles”, becoming fluent in afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms and Jazz. Since 2007, he has been studying at the Berklee College of Music. Bruno has a busy career, playing and recording with several artists in the U.S.A. and Brazil. Ignacio Long (bass) was born in Patagonia, Argentina. He studied in Buenos Aires at the EMBA School of Music. Later he moved to New York to study at the Bass Collective. He moved to Boston to study Composition and Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music. Ignacio Long has played in groups of South American Folk, Rock-Pop, Salsa, Jazz, Latin-Jazz, Tango, and Brazilian music. He has performed in Buenos Aires, New York, and Boston. Andy Milas (guitar) has studied guitar under supervision of Boston’s most acclaimed instructors. For almost two decades, Milas has performed traditional and contemporary Greek music and has contributed with various Progressive Rock/Metal, New Age, and Jazz projects. His influences range from artists like “Michael Hedges”, “George Winston”, “Avishai Cohen”, “John Zorn”, “Simon Shaheen”, “Laço Tayfa”, “Al DiMeola”, and “Strunz & Farah”, to Metal acts like “Fates Warning” and “Metallica”. Esthema’s first CD, “Apart From The Rest” (2007) was praised by the specialized press, and regarded as one of the best independent releases of that year. The second CD - “The Hereness and Nowness of Things” (2009) is not less amazing, and will make the band still more famous around the independent musical scene. Esthema’s sonority is totally instrumental, and almost predominantly acoustic, unless for the bass and some clean guitars. Latin and Middle Eastern rhythms, strings, and Turkish-Arabian violins abound. Although having so different origins and musical backgrounds, the five integrants make profit of that diversity, and are able to interconnect all elements of their music into a consistent and harmonized frame. “The Hereness and Nowness of Things” is like a sonic travelogue for deciphering the secret paths that link exotic places in Cuba, Brazil and Argentina to the distant dreamy lands of Greece, Spain and Turkish-Arabian countries. Evoking images of dry yellow dunes and blue clean skies; inviting us to cross the desert and its perils in a musical adventure, Esthema executes its pieces with the same fluidity of the precious water hidden underneath a distant oasis. Along the 8 tracks of the CD, one can hear from Turkish music and Jazzy bass lines on “Change of Season“ to Brazilian northeastern rhythms brilliantly inserted on the Eastern atmosphere of “Eastern Dance“. The sensual violins of “A Place to Rest“ coil like a snake preparing its mortal bite. The bass progressions and “Bossa Nova” beat on “Arrhythmia“ sound like an invitation for visiting mysterious places. Irradiating more energy on drumming than on the previous tracks, “Forward Motion“ has a Spanish touch hidden within its musical scales. Inspired violin tunes are introduced on “Four Colors“, which later speeds the rhythm to a lively dance, the dancers being ouds, bouzoukis, and guitars. A romantic relaxing theme drives “Illusion of Truth“, but it grows later turning into colorful gypsy violins. A touch of 21st century modernity is heard on the amazing Jazz-Rock guitar solo on “On & On“, which recalls me of “Mahavishnu Orchestra”. Featuring Music at its best, “The Hereness and Nowness of Things” is a brilliant work, being highly recommended for fans of Progressive, Fusion, Electro-acoustic and Traditional Eastern Music. Band members and collaborators involved in Esthema are: Onur Dilisen – Violin; Tery Lemanis - Oud, Bouzouki; Bruno Esrubilsky - Drums, Percussion; Ignacio Long - Bass and Andy Milas – Guitars...

Marcelo Trotta, www.progressiverockbr.com

...very romantic, beautifully rich and melodic.

July 2010

In order to give you some comparisons to see if this is something you’d like, I always try to give some connection to another band’s style of music. Esthema makes it hard, because their music is so different and unique. They call themselves “World Fusion,” and that makes sense. They are influenced by jazz and progressive, and use acoustic instruments from the Middle East, like oud and bouzouki. If I had to compare them to any recording or band, I would say Yo-Yo Ma’s Soul of the Tango or a prog-classical Gypsy Kings. There are also echoes of King Crimson, California Guitar Trio and especially Azigza.

It begins with “Change of Season,” a light fusion piece reminding of Spyro Gyra or Hiroshima. It sounds like belly dancing music with a moving lyrical violin line throughout. The Gypsy King vibe I was speaking of comes to the forefront on the next cut, “Eastern Dance.” “Arrhythmia” is the song that brings on the tango, with a lovely cello by guest musician Robyn Ryczek.

It’s all very romantic, beautifully rich and melodic. Andy Milas on guitar, Onur Dilisen on violin, Ignacio Long playing bass Tery Lemanis with oud and bouzouki and bringing it all together with percussion, Bruno Esrubilsky. They all play with precision and great emotion. “”Forward Motion” has nice flamenco runs all over it courtesy of Andy, and “On & On” reveals a heretofore hidden electric guitar talent.

The varied instrumentation and eclectic nature of the writing, along with the World Music and ethnic mood, is what puts this recording squarely in the progressive category. If you are willing to venture from the “rock” aspect of progressive rock and listen to something a bit different, this would be something you would find interesting. I’ll bet that these guys would be tremendous live!

- Terry Jackson, ProgNaut.com

It flows and washes over you...

June 2010

Esthema are a Boston based fusion band who specialize in blending Eastern European & Middle Eastern sounds into rock & jazz based music. The band is made up of five musicians playing instrumental music using violin, oud, bouzouki, drums, guitar & bass. As is fitting for a band blending musical styles they hail from a diverse range of countries, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and the USA. The Hereness & Nowness of Things is their second release after a well received first release Apart From The Rest (2007)

The term World Music usually makes me cringe but Esthema make it work, this isn't a cheesy disk selling the benefits of meditation, there are interesting interplays of styles & instruments and ever changing dynamics. It is sufficiently different from anything I've heard before without being pretentious or over self involved. It's a distinctive blend of jazz, rock, eastern & western influences. It doesn't necessarily grab you by the throat, it's not that kind of music. It flows and washes over you and bears repeated listenings to slowly ingrain itself.

Plenty of hooks, & a very enjoyable listen, World Music in a good way. Well played & produced. Worthy of further investigation for those interested in a fusion of jazz, rock with a Middle Eastern influence.

- NogbadTheBad, Progressive Ears

...very well made, and with enough sophistication to avoid taking on the cliched varieties of folk and jazz blend that have been explored by other artists over the years.

May 2010

This US band, sporting cultural connections from about as many corners of the world as the band has members, describes itself as a world fusion ensemble. And while I agree fully with the first and last part of that idiom, my opinion is that its middle part is somewhat misleading, at least if seen in the context of musical style rather than musical approach. If the latter is the case, however, fusion would be an apt description of the music on this disc, because this isn't an album blending rock and jazz first and foremost. Instead, world and folk (or perhaps ethnic) music are the main and key ingredients here. Jazz offers a strong seasoning though, while aspects of the compositions catering to a rock-interested audience are more sparingly used as sonic spices on a few select occasions. Esthema's musical vision is stated as "fusing elements from the traditional music of the Eastern European Balkan region and the Near and Middle East with Progressive Rock and various styles of Jazz." Which might be correct as well; I'm not overly familiar with these traditions myself and can't really give an expert opinion as such. From my more narrow musical knowledge, I'd describe the style explored on this production in a rather different manner, though. The rhythm section and regular guitar contribute to the few instances of rock found, but personally I find them more often than not providing a gypsy-flavored jazz and fusion sound with references back to the old maestro Django Reinhardt. Lemanis adds flavorings from Arabian and Greek folk music with his oud and bouzouki, and these two instruments dominate the proceedings along with the violin of Dilisen, which in turns seems to wander rather freely between the aforementioned gypsy-inspired jazz tradition and what to my ears sounds like distinct Persian-tinged sound and expression. The cultural origins of the music are less important than the end result though, and in this case it is a very captivating one. The opening track Change of Season and the following effort Eastern Dance in particular come across as compositions closing in on pure perfection and brilliance. The other compositions don't intrigue as much, perhaps due to the rather similar sound explored throughout, but are solid efforts nonetheless.

If you have a soft spot for world music and jazz in general and for Greek and Arabian folk music in particular, then Esthema is a band you will want to get more familiar with. Their blend of Django-influenced jazz and the folk music traditions mentioned above is very well made, and with enough sophistication to avoid taking on the cliched varieties of folk and jazz blend that have been explored by other artists over the years. There's not too much rock in this musical potpourri though, so those looking for music easily defined as progressive rock in some form might want to stay clear of this venture.

- Olav Martin Bjørnsen, www.Progressor.net

...an inspired album

May 2010

Exploring a style of music that will have to be described as heavily world music-inspired with some jazzy flavouring, Esthema manage to blend characteristics of several distinct flavours of folk music with jazz in a neat and interesting manner on this latest endeavour of theirs.

With rhythms and guitars more often than not providing jazzy flavours with nods in the direction of Django Reinhardt and the gypsy tradition, skilful use of oud and bouzouki respectively adds touches from Arabian/Persian and Greek folk music to these compositions, while the violin visits each of these three styles in it's everlasting wandering from passage to passage and song to song.

The end result is an inspired album, perhaps a bit too much like itself as it moves towards the end but very well made and performed non the less. Especially for those who might find such a blend of styles intriguing, obviously.

- Windhawk (Olav Martin Bjørnsen), Prog Archives

...masters of world fusion like no one has ever done before.

April 2010

In spite of the curse on sophomore albums, Hereness and Nowness of Things is by far the best of the two albums Esthema has produced. All of the nine songs, except “Four Colors,” which was written by Onur Dilisen, are composed by Andy Milas. Each track contains multiple layers of instrumental voices and moods, making the album not something you can put into the player and do something else while half hearing the tracks. There is just too much interesting stuff going on. The Middle Eastern and Eastern European confluence with American jazz is a smooth interweaving. It is impressive. From the first track, “Change of Season,” you know that this isn’t an ordinary album. You are instantly transported into other realms. “Eastern Dance,” though very much an original tune, also has a few familiar ethnic lines woven through the piece. There are so many that this isn’t a flaw of the work but one of the reasons why the track is so successful.

I was always impressed in the late 1980s by a New Age band called Shadowfax that emerged in the era of synthesizers. It offered more for the meditative ear than schmaltz, introducing complex world music themes. Then later I discover Umphrey’s McGee when they released Local Band Does OK, where each track was a musical smorgasbord. These were bands well before Esthema’s time who weren’t even attempting what these musicians are nor did they have the broad musical range as the musicians of Esthema.

But it is clear that Hereness and Nowness of Things is just a glimpse of what these musicians can produce. Though I truly hope they will record a garage full of albums, 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. Every track on this album is an absolute delight and could be parsed for years by musician enthusiasts. I know that every time, I put this album into my player I will discover something new that will speak to me. That is because Esthema not only constructs and attacks their compositions with intelligence and technical skill, but they do it with soul and heart. That is something that cannot be taught. Very highly recommended!

-Janie Franz, Skope Magazine, Music Up Close - April 2010

...one of the most unique bands in America

March 2010

American band, Esthema fuses elements of jazz, progressive rock, classical and the ethnic music that comes from the Balkan region in Europe which is why they are regarded as one of the most unique bands in America. But uniqueness and originality aren’t Esthema’s only attributes, they succeed in combining all mentioned elements into an experimental-progressive classical symphony, which is based on the music of our [Slovenia’s] southern neighbors. Their music, at times can be very calm, melodic, and even therapeutic, and when the music is at its peak – bombastic, loud, and progressive.

The most obvious influence of East and West is perfectly shown in the first two tracks, Change of Season and Eastern Dance (the title itself suggests eastern rhythms). Then A Place To Rest and Arrythmia share a heavy Mediteranean influence. The latter posesses some Spanish elements that showcase Andy Milas on acoustic guitar. Arrhythmia is followed by a more progressive, fusion composition, called Forward Motion, which also has a strong Balkan feel. I believe, it is much stronger than the previous compositions and it really breaks the final pieces of ice. Four Colors follows with a calm, though quite experimental melody, where once again we can hear those elements from the music of our parts of the world, which are mixed with a prog-jazzy sound. Illusion Of Truth, the next track, is a bit more mysterious, maybe even the most emotional composition on the album, with a pinch of melancholia. Some individual parts show the virtuosity of this quartet; the track brings out the best of them. Esthema ends the album with the least typical track, maybe even a bit popish, but very enjoyable and melodical; it is, in my opinion, their best composition on the cd. The warm sound of the violin, that had a much edgier experimental sound on earlier tracks, is a welcome novelty that should be used more. It gives the track a fresh feel. On & On is a welcomed change given some repetiveness in the earlier compositions.

Esthema defined themselves with their debut, Apart From The Rest, and created a major difference between them and other jazz fusion and progressive rock bands. Uniqueness is an attribute that was put on them immediately, and with that uniqueness they continue on the Hereness and Nowness of Things. A Slovenian equivalent would be Terrafolk, which is well known in Europe.

-Tine Kolenik, www.RockLine.si

Evocative and dramatic throughout

February 2010

Self proclaimed World Fusion ensemble Esthema out of Boston return with their second album, the Hereness and Nowness of Things, which follows on from a favourable response to their 2007 debut Apart From The Rest. The title of their debut certainly proves accurate as this is an outfit that can seamlessly blend the sounds of the Far East and Eastern Europe with more contemporary Western rock influences and also finds space for more than a passing nod to the prog bands of yesteryear. This is a vibrant and colourful collection that frequently changes direction but stops well short of self-indulgence and is held together by some inspired playing from the musicians and in particular the steady rhythm section of bassist Ignacio Long and drummer Bruno Esrubilsky. Evocative and dramatic throughout, the guitar flourishes of Andy Milas regularly interchange with violin, oud and bouzouki with "A Place to Rest" and "On and On" being notable high points.

An entirely instrumental effort, the Hereness and Nowness of Things will satisfy those who are seeking something that little bit different that transcends boundaries and has melody, originality and spark.

-Dean Pedley, Sea of Tranquility

...the group plays at a truly world-class level

February 2010

As their press states, this Boston-based quintet is “a world fusion ensemble mixing elements of Eastern European/Balkan and Near/Middle Eastern music with jazz and progressive rock.” Led by exceptional guitarist and composer guitarist Andy Milas, Esthema also includes Turkish violinist Onur Dilisen, oud and bouzouki player Tery Lemanis, Argentine Bassist Ignacio Long, and Brazilian drummer Bruno Esrubilsky. Drawing on advanced musical studies and international performance experience, the group plays at a truly world-class level, with authenticity, aplomb, and exuberance, resulting in a sumptuous blend that’s as tasty as an Athenian olive.

- Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player Magazine, April 2010 Issue

If one wants some breathtaking World Fusion music, then Boston, MA's Esthema is the way to go.

February 2010

If one wants some breathtaking World Fusion music, then Boston, MA's Esthema is the way to go. Despite the heavy Middle Eastern influence and sound, this has universal appeal. The recording is magnificent bringing all the instruments both exotic and traditional, fully up in the mix. The drums especially sound wonderful, in particular the cymbals and snare drum. Of course, it helps to have an excellent drummer, and Esthema do in Bruno Esrubilsky.

Other instruments featured include acoustic and electric guitar, violin, bass, bouzouki and oud. If Rock fans were able to enjoy the Page/Plant tour of '95-'96 and heard all the Middle Eastern arrangements to various Led Zeppelin songs with an open ear, than why not Esthema? The track "On & On" is the closest to being maintsream or Rock oriented, largely due to the killer electric guitar solo by Andy Milas which shows a heavy Jazz Fusion influence from acts like The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. It's just an outstanding piece of music and the drums and violin are also stellar. Nothing else displayed here sounds like this one song, and it would be nice to hear more material of this ilk.

"Eastern Dance" sounds just like the title says and features very delicate arrangements that work perfectly, while "Arrythmia" is more of a mellower, drawn out piece. For fans of World Music, Jazz Fusion, Progressive Rock and even Folk Rock, Esthema are a rewarding investment.

-Peter Braidis, Indie-Music.com

I could not recommend this more highly to lovers of world and jazz music.

February 2010

The latest from Esthema is another great slab of east meets west, jazz meets world, art meets earth. A follow-up to their critically acclaimed Apart From the Rest, this new album picks up on the framework previously laid down, while refining and blurring the lines of influence. The band has obviously evolved to become more that a sum of their parts. This new release is a much more cohesive singular idea. This thread of continuity gives this album a natural flow lacking in their previous release. The compositions are more of a collaboration of all members than just one, which provides a fluid counterpoint, spotlighting the talents of everyone in the band so eloquently. I could not recommend this more highly to lovers of world and jazz music.

-Joel Simches, The Noise Magazine

Excerpt from TAXI's (the World Leader in Independent A&R) critique of Change of Season

fall 2009

The group sounds excellent. Based on what I am hearing you’re all superb musicians. I’m quite impressed by the fusing of Middle Eastern/South Asian & perhaps medieval approaches with jazz improve sensibility; the results sound seamless as well as fresh & inspired. The recording is also well done; to my ears this is radio ready and is sonically viable for potential film/TV uses.

-TAXI, The World Leader in Independent A&R

...melodic, smoothly flowing persuasion with exotic texturing and tricky changeups

fall 2009

Two years after debut Apart from the Rest, eclectic Boston-area ensemble Esthema returns with another album of Eastern- and Latin-flavored ethnic instrumentals sifted through the jazz-improv strainer. Violinist Onur Dilisen and guitarist Andy Milas pace these eight tracks with Tery Lemanis (oud, bouzouki) lending ethnic flavors. Ignacio Long (bass) and Bruno Esrubilsky (drums) man the rhythm section. Guests on doumbek and cello also appear.

Like its predecessor, The Hereness and Nowness of Things is of melodic, smoothly flowing persuasion with exotic texturing and tricky changeups. Nine-minute opener “Change of Season” sets the prevailing tone of subtle mood shifts, from mysterious to playful to cerebral – unpredictably twisting and winding about in mid-tempo fashion. Long’s understated bass soloing pushes the jazz vibe out front while Dilisen alternates between strident and swingin’.

The likes of “Eastern Dance” and “Four Colors” are danceable (but you’d better be especially light on your feet). “Illusion of Truth” has some swiftly nimble call-response passages. “On & On” features Milas on electric guitar, which Esthema hopefully will explore further next time.

-John Collinge, Progression Magazine, Fall 2009 - Issue 58

Esthema’s approach is like a great example how a world fusion band should be able to sound.

november 2009

Esthema’s approach is like a great example how a world fusion band should be able to sound. Nothing here of the recognisable themes to be improvised upon, but contemporary music based upon a wide range of skills and ideas, forming a new form of chamber folk(rock) music with a total world music fundament. The violin plays with jazz-fusion abilities but also switches easily to a few folkdance melodies with the same sort of strength; the percussion plays with accurate precision, including microrhythms (learned from his Brazil days), while broadening the scopes and pushing the boundaries towards a folk-rock and jazzrock, something which even improved the band’s original sound with a subtle touch of power. There are recognisable Greek or occasional Turkish music themes here and there, immediately adapted into bigger compositions and orientations. Surprising was also the use of some electric guitar, which widens the emotionality within the music even more, in an equally subtle balance. There were some guest appearances on dumbek and cello. Highly recommended!

-Gerald Van Waes, Phsyche Music

Esthema seems to have a solid grasp of what the hereness and nowness of things is about.

november 2009

The band Esthema may hail from Boston, but it is the diverse makeup of the band that makes them so unique. The world fusion quintet contains some members from Turkey, Brazil, and Argentina. They are all thoroughly trained musicians, and to add to their range, some of them have trained throughout several countries in Europe, including Spain, Greece, Belgium, and Ireland. Putting all of these pieces together, Esthema brings something original on their second release, The Hereness and Nowness of Things.

Esthema’s first release, Apart From the Rest was composed of six tracks that were written by guitarist Andy Milas. They were arranged by the entire band and included many elements of Eastern and Western music. On The Hereness and Nowness of Things the creation process is pretty much the same, outside of “Four Colors”, which was written by violinist Onur Dilisen.

With over eight songs, Esthema really takes you around the world while ranging from more traditional elements to some more modern, and often a combination of them. The styles vary, and you will be reminded of different regions several times, sometimes even in the same song. Personally I tend to prefer the more traditional aspects, but I think the quality of the musicians carries you through the different characteristics that you may like less and makes the transitions smooth. My favorite track is the opener “Change of Season”, so sample that one first. The closer “On & On” tends to be more modern, so check out that one to get a better sense of the range of this album.

At first The Hereness and Nowness of Things seemed an unfitting title for this album. There is much more to this album then the “here and now”, it certainly seems to cover the “then and there” as well. However, the more I think about the title, how it feels, and the time in which it is being released, Esthema seems to have a solid grasp of what the hereness and nowness of things is about.

- Kevin Kozel, Muzik Reviews

...an emotional experience that is dramatic and cinematic

november 2009

Boston isn’t known as a major player in world music but that doesn’t mean it isn’t home to some fine bands who love to play the more complex and unconventional sounds associated with the genre. Need proof, just listen to Esthema’s latest cd The Hereness and Nowness of Things which expands on the charms of the group’s debut Apart from the Rest by tackling new ways to fuse European, Middle Eastern, and American music together.

In the past, Esthema has successfully incorporated music from the Eastern European Balkan area and the Near/Middle East with the sounds of progressive rock and jazz. The result gave the band a distinct personality as it flawlessly blended such traditional Western instruments as the guitar, bass, and drums with Eastern instruments such as the oud and bouzouki.

Now, as apparent from listening to the all-instrumental The Hereness and Nowness of Things, the five members of Esthema sound even more confident as they are willing to add folk rhythms from Eastern European dances to its songs. The tracks “Eastern Dance” and “Arrhythmia” are the best examples of this as the stringed instruments played by Andy Milas (guitar), Onur Dilisen (violin), and Tery Lemanis (oud and bouzouki) sparkle by giving off a nice groove.

While songs like these showcase the band’s willingness to add new textures to its sound, the most enjoyable stuff on this recording are the songs that are more like the stuff heard on the group’s debut. However, this time things are more complex. The opening track entitled “Change of Season” is a nine-minute epic that feels more classical in nature because of its numerous tempo changes and glorious violin and cello work. Best of all, it gives the listener an emotional experience that is dramatic and cinematic.

Another standout is “On and On” which is definitely the most accessible track on The Hereness and Nowness of Things. The first half of the song is pleasant enough with an understated violin and guitar but the second half is where Esthema lets loose with its rockier side. The most impressive aspect to it is Milas’ guitar work which is propelled beautifully by the steady rhythm section of bassist Ignacio Long and drummer Bruno Esrubilsky.

In the end, Esthema’s sophomore release should be experienced as a whole though because there is no filler here. In fact, the band shows on the cd that it is talented enough to be a player in the world music scene—and not only in Boston, but anywhere.

- Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine

A listener can't go wrong with The Hereness and Nowness of Things; there is much to love.

november 2009

     Boston's Esthema offers a world-class collaboration of the highest order.  Their sophomore CD, The Hereness and Nowness of Things, is currently being released, and once again, Esthema dazzles.  The eight instrumental tracks each have a distinct flavor, with the overall common theme of changes in tempo that build excitement and mystery, while enriching the texture of each composition.  "Change of Season," an exotic Arabian nights interlude, and "Four Colors" perfectly illustrate pace changes that blend seamlessly into each other and journey full circle to a satisfying conclusion.  "Arrhythmia" is a slightly otherworldly piece that gets under your skin, as its base and rhythm keep time with your heart.  Or sample "Forward Motion," a bold but sweet, skillful  intermingling of sounds.  Throughout the CD, the individual instruments of guitar, violin, oud and bouzouki, bass, and drums, take on a persona of their own in each song, as they guide our feelings and emotions to follow wherever they lead.  A listener can't go wrong with The Hereness and Nowness of Things; there is much to love.

- Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan, Phosphorescence Magazine

Boston’s Esthema may be one of the most original acts we’ve come across.

October 2009

Boston’s Esthema may be one of the most original acts we’ve come across. A World Fusion band that takes that label to heart, Esthema blends Eastern European, Middle Eastern, South American and Far Eastern Sounds with Progressive Rock and Classical elements to create magic. Esthema released their debut album, Apart From The Rest in 2007, receiving significant positive press. They follow up on November 3, 2009 with their sophomore effort, The Hereness And Nowness Of Things.

Esthema leads off with Change Of Season, mixing Western, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern sounds in a dynamic musical composition that sounds like it should the opening score element of a major motion picture. The piece has a highly distinctive sound and style and is very enjoyable. The cultural genre-bending continues on Eastern Dance. Highly energetic and danceable, Eastern Dance varies significantly from the sort of popularized dance music currently in vogue, relying on pulsing and morphing organic rhythms that travel from percussion to strings and back again. The focus changes slightly on the Mediterranean flavored A Place To Rest before Esthema returns to a grand cinematic feel for Arrhythmia. Nuanced and vibrant, A Place To Rest co-mingles Middle Eastern and old world Spanish styles and sounds in pleasurable ways.

Four Colors features a vibrant, almost frantic energy in an explosively energetic dance number before Esthema rolls into Illusion Of Truth. Illusion Of Truth has a cloudy feel to it, with a theme that's roiled and punctuated by turbulence. It's as if "facts" and "truth" collide atmospherically in a cycle that never ends, winding and unwinding throughout the composition sparking sometimes storms and sometimes unsettled skies. Esthema closes out with the "Pop-iest" selection on the disc. On & On has a serene feel that's neither ethereal nor ambient but lends to a sense of transcendence. You can almost hear an arrangement of this forthcoming from Keith Lockhart.

We noted that Esthema's Apart From The Rest was a magical musical experience. On The Hereness And Nowness Of Things, Esthema leaves behind the magical world for the gritty, earthy charm of The Mediterranean, where culture upon culture washes upon the shore with sometimes unpredictable outcomes. The Hereness And Nowness Of Things is a musical breadbasket where loaves and fishes mix in fantastical ways and there's always enough to fulfill you as a listener, no matter how many times you return.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

—Wildy Haskel, Wildy's World, October 2009


Apart From The Rest:

Le sei tracce dell’album scorrono in modo agile, melodia su melodia...

April 2014

Molte volte i sentieri musicali che portano da Oriente ad Occidente si sono intrecciati negli spartiti di numerosi gruppi ma di rado si arriva ad una compenetrazione così intima degli stessi. Non si tratta di rubare alcuni suoni ed alcune impressioni e di trasferirle idealmente da una parte all’altra del globo ma di far convivere tecniche e modi di pensare diversi in modo armonioso, come due piante innestate che danno frutti diversi ma che traggono nutrimento dalle stesse radici. Sin dalla sua nascita, nel 2006, questo gruppo di Boston si è proposto di mescolare la musica tradizionale dei Balcani e del vicino e medio Oriente con le forme musicali occidentali del Jazz e del Progressive Rock, intrecciando intimamente linguaggi appartenenti a culture diverse. I propositi artistici degli Esthema si concretizzano con questo esordio che mostra idee chiare ed un sound maturo e disinvolto che non lascia campo a tentennamenti, ingenuità o banalità. Tutti i fili di colori diversi e brillanti si intrecciano in modo perfetto a formare un tessuto prezioso che lascia intravedere un disegno globale bello e proporzionato.

Le sei tracce dell’album scorrono in modo agile, melodia su melodia, assolo dopo assolo, tenute assieme da arrangiamenti raffinati ma mai traboccanti. Del resto stiamo parlando di musicisti con esperienze solide alle spalle, a partire dal chitarrista Andrew Milas, autore di tutti i brani qui contenuti, che ha suonato per anni in gruppi di ispirazione diversa dedicandosi al contempo alla musica greca contemporanea e tradizionale. Quanto al violinista, Onur Dilisen, porta con sé la concretezza delle proprie origini turche oltre che una formazione presso il conservatorio di Boston. Tery Lemanis suona strumenti tradizionali, Oud e Bouzuki, che ha imparato a conoscere in Grecia, approfondendo anche la musica bizantina attraverso programmi di scambio universitari. Il batterista Carl Sorensen, che si è formato al Berklee College of Music di Boston, ed il bassista Jack Mason hanno lasciato il gruppo subito dopo la pubblicazione di questo CD che si giova di una trama ritmica duttile e dalle timbriche flessuose e felpate che oscilla costantemente fra jazz e folk. Tutti gli strumenti in realtà subiscono costantemente queste oscillazioni di genere ricordando in parte certe intuizioni del musicista libanese Rabih Abou-Khalil in una veste più ariosa e lineare. Il violino ad esempio a volte ha una connotazione classicheggiante, come nella romantica traccia di apertura, “Consequence”, mentre l’oud, che gioca con le stesse linee melodiche, ha un che di mediorientale. Il basso fornisce un tocco elettrico che dà una piacevole scossa al ritmo, sostenuto da una batteria gentile ma decisa. In un substrato simile a quello della traccia appena ascoltata vengono affiancati arpeggi, ritmi latini e suggestioni ispaniche suggerite da arpeggi simil-flamenco nella successiva “For whom? For me…” senza che accostamenti così diversi turbino l’armonia di un pezzo dalle colorazioni sfumate.

E’ proprio dal sapiente miscuglio di elementi diversi, lo ribadisco, che scaturisce il fascino di questo album oltre che dalla piacevole godibilità di insieme. Il sound si fa ancora più flessuoso e piacevole quando alla batteria viene preferito il djembe o il doumbek come in “Erimos”, lenta e sinuosa. Molto più particolareggiata dal punto di vista ritmico è la conclusiva “Apart from the Rest”, in cui il violino a tratti sembra seguire i sentieri della musica tradizionale araba. Quanto all’intento di mescolare folk, prog e jazz direi che lo considero raggiunto, fermo restando che la componente tradizionale è quella che maggiormente dona colore e sapore alla musica, mentre gli elementi jazz rendono il tutto molto flessibile e bilanciato mentre quelli accademici, molto diluiti nel contesto, aggiungono un tocco sofisticato ma assolutamente non pedante e altezzoso. Gruppo da tenere d’occhio quindi e da ascoltare a più riprese sia in modo disimpegnato che più approfondito per cogliere ogni sfumatura e che gira senza alcuna fatica nello stereo.

Alberto Nucci, Arlequins (Italy)

ESTHEMA est une formation qualifiée de world fusion,...

April 2014

ESTHEMA est une formation qualifiée de world fusion, mélange de progressif, de jazz, de musique traditionnelle des Balkans, de Grèce, d’Extrême et Moyen Orient. ESTHEMA a été créé à Boston en 2006. On trouve ANDY MILAS à la guitare, au jeu très marqué par AL DI MEOLA. ANDY ne se consacre qu'à ESTHEMA, ce qui n'est pas le cas de ses confrères. ONUR DILISEN au violon, d'origine Turque, diplômé du conservatoire de Boston en 2009 enseigne et joue dans diverses formations, membre de l'orchestre philharmonique de Plymouth. TERRY LEMANIS né à Boston joue du bouzouki et du Oud dans diverses formations dont un tribute band à Frank ZAPPA, a effectué des études de musique byzantine et grecque, diplômé du Berklee College Of Music, enseigne également. JACK MASON joue de la basse et CARL SORENSEN tient la batterie. Ce sont tous des pointures, issus de divers milieux toutes tendances musicales confondues d'où cette intelligente fusion des genres. Premier album en 2007, APART FROM THE REST débute avec le titre Consequence écrit par ANDY MILAS qui le présente comme la synthèse de la musique d’ESTHEMA et il n'a pas tort, car tout y est, l'ensemble prenant son envol du côté du folklore de la Grèce amené par un sacré violoniste, une guitare acoustique, une excellente rythmique et un bouzouki. Puis on fait escale au Moyen Orient grâce à la sonorité du violon dont la sonorité évoque JL PONTY. Distance est tout aussi chaud et arbore un côté manouche. Erimos est dédié au bouzouki accompagné par le violon toujours enivrant. C'est magnifiquement riche en émotion, original et intéressant permettant de passer les frontières. Finding My Way est plutôt jazz accompagné à la guitare dans une veine très AL DI MEOLA, le final revenant au style maintenant bien connu de la formation. Les 3 instruments fétiches sont la guitare, le bouzouki et le violon se partageant la vedette en se complétant comme sur le morceau donnant le titre où on entend un violon réminiscent de JERRY GODMAN, de la world fusion pleine d'audace qui vous mènera dans des contrées peu habituelles, seul petit reproche un réel manque d'électricité.

Jean-Pierre SCHRICKE, Highlands Magazine, Issue 64

Recommended and very enjoyable listen!

August 2008

The most amazing thing about Esthema is that all members, despite having mastered whole different styles… (-Turkish born Onur Dilisen on violin is busy finishing his masters degree on violin at Boston Conservatory ; Tery Lemanis on oud/bouzouki graduated for guitar at Berklee College of Music while also having included a study on Bouzouki, Oud, and Byzantine music in Greece as part of the university’s exchange program ; Brazil born Bruno Esrubilsky on drums/percussion experienced a period of touring, teaching and studying throughout Europe, now joined in through Berkeley ; Argentine born Ignacio Long on bass has studied in Brazil, New York, and Boston for Composition and Film Score at Berkeley College of Music ; Andy Milas on guitar has been performing traditional and contemporary Greek music for over a decade throughout New England, but also arranged for Progressive Rock, Greek, New Age, and Jazz musical projects), together they manage to fuse and transform a resume of their skills into one fruitful unity with a more global style, and with each previous style completely adapted into one another. They perform with a sort of jazz-fusion improvised strength, which directs the music with some melodic flows, combined with the skilful rhythmical structures which have always micro rhythms available and subtle separate cooperative layers in them -which sound logical and easy, but which aren’t-, played by mostly cooperative-dialoguing paired or sometimes single instruments.

The acoustic guitar on its own could easily range from Spanish, Western and Greek flavours reaching out hands to the bouzouki/oud player while adding elements to the other members. The oud/bouzouki takes its own freedom, just a little bit more of a jazz nature in doing so, but with ideas coming forth from Greek and Middle Eastern music. The drums make many micro-rhythms possible, are skilful like jazz, but can handle art-rock, and adds moments of surprises and change with Latin/Cuban rhythms, without ever letting those new moments take over the flow of the melody drives, or the previous basic scale (especially great on “finding my way”). Also the bass player manages to add such Latin swing surprises amongst a more usual jazz-rock drive. The violin player has improvisations on top (comparable in nature to what happened in Curved Air or Mahavishnu Orchestra, but with a different flavour), in some way mixes a jazz-fusion freedom with an mid-eastern touch. Some of the used rhythmic scales are incredibly interesting like the 4+5/8 rhythm (-if I count right-), on “Distance”, and the brilliant, very unusual parts of even more combined rhythms on the closing track “apart from the rest”, which are (Ii think) adapted from Arab scales.

On the website they give a bit more detail into how they play Western Jazz improvisation and Eastern Taxims, Latin Samba and Eastern Kasilama, Western modes like Aeolian and Phrygian and Eastern Scales/Maqams like Hijaz, Sabah, and Niavent, for those who know what this all means in detail.

Recommended and very enjoyable listen!

Phsyche Music , August 2008

...weaves us in and out of a perfectly crafted dream-world

June 2008

In 2007, Boston-based instrumental group Esthema, released a CD entitled, "Apart From The Rest." This "World Fusion Ensemble" consists of five members merging the sounds of violin, oud/bouzouki, drums/doumbek, bass, and guitar. It is a blending of Eastern and Western traditions that bring myriad flavors to the table resulting in a wonderful international resonance. Within each of the six compositions featured on the CD, different styles and genres such as Middle Eastern, Jazz, and Progressive Rock are effortlessly pulled in and led away, only to reappear, forming a lovely circle of sound that fully engages the listener. "For Whom? For Me…" is one such example where these many pieces are smoothly rolled into one. Likewise on "Erimos," which keeps moving at a steady, upbeat pace that holds the listener's attention. Our favorite was "Distance," with the haunting beginning of a classical arrangement that then rises to a crescendo, and weaves us in and out of a perfectly crafted dream-world. This is the place where one can entirely appreciate the talent of these musicologists. Bravo!***** The Best!

—Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan, Phosphorescence Magazine, June 2008 Issue

...nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music

May 2008

This recording 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. The passion for the music cannot be understated, nor can the sense that these styles can breathe anew in this collection of songs. Though the five musicians themselves hail from different parts of the earth, the global chemistry between them is obvious, like five minds MIDI-linked without latency issues. It is refreshing to hear schooled musicians playing together and not simply showing off their chops. Though there are several opportunities for each individual to shine within the framework of these six pieces, this album is a true collaboration of musical sensibilities. This CD will be in my player for some time to come.

—Joel Simches, The Noise - Boston, May 2008

It’s a perfect combination of Middle Eastern/East European folk music and American jazz, like an amped-up Loreena McKennitt without vocals.

april 2008

I’ve gotta come clean and tell you that I’m a bellydancer and I love jazz. I want to kiss my editor for sending me this disc. It’s a perfect combination of Middle Eastern/East European folk music and American jazz, like an amped-up Loreena McKennitt without vocals. This quintet has studied all over the world, and with excellent musicianship, they smoothly turn out originals centered around the beautiful melodies played on oud, bouzouki (both members of the lute family prominent in Middle Eastern music) and violin with bass, drums and guitar providing the support.

It’s the drums and bass that give these compositions an American jazz sound. Missing are the distinctly polyrhythmic Middle Eastern beats. In fact, if you isolated the rhythm section you’d find a pretty standard jazz base. Very well-played and creative, to be sure, but definitely not Turkish or Egyptian. The same goes for the bass and guitar. It’s the gorgeous minor melodies played on the other stringed instruments that serve as a centerpiece for this recording and really make them stand out from the crowd of bands doing “world music.” (Can I say how much I hate that term? Everything is world music. It’s just a label slapped on some bands by folks who think anything outside of the states is exotic.)

On “Consequence” the violin and bouzouki do a very cool call and answer, then join together for musical phrases. (Please forgive me if I confuse the oud and bouzouki. There aren’t separate credits for each cut and to my ear, they have a similar sound.) It quiets for a section then the bouzouki becomes the focus, ably backed by the drums and bass. There are several more sections – like a good jazz jam with lots of tasty melody – and towards the end is another call and answer. Beautiful. “For Whom? For Me …” is in an odd time that compliments the melody. Every good jazz band has a few tunes in something besides 4/4. “Apart From the Rest” really lets the band stretch and show off their chops with each of them taking a solo and no, the bass solo doesn’t suck. This isn’t some garage band, y’all, they know their stuff.

I should send roses to my editor for giving me this disc. As for everyone else – go hear Esthema live – they seem to play in Massachusetts and New York mostly – or buy their disc. Don’t bother with the flowers.

—Jamie Anderson, Indie-Music.com, April 2008

...a unique listening experience

march/april 2008

While many may find the new age-jazz-rock fusion genre to be as pretentious as a Sting discourse on global warming and tantric sex, there is a band out there that might please even those critics. The Massachusetts-based Esthema is a promising quintet who has just released the enjoyable Apart From The Rest which works well because of the band’s top-notch musicianship.

Best of all, Esthema has added something else to the normally staid jazz-rock sound – a heavy Eastern European influence – that makes the six instrumentals on Apart From The Rest a unique listening experience. Every song features an impressive blending of genres with a typical example being the track “For Whom? For Me.” The song has a Moroccan influence but there is also an American jam-band vibe to it as Onur Dilisen impresses with his violin playing much like DMB’s Boyd Tinsley.

While there is some jazz freeform stuff going on underneath in some of the songs, Esthema also knows how to play a song with hooks and melody as the standout “Finding My Way” shows. With the right lyrics, that track could have easily found its way onto the radio.

For all of this to work, the musicians obviously have to be gifted and all here know exactly what they are doing. The most impressive are Andy Milas who does great acoustic steel guitar on “Consequence,” Carl Sorensen who provides a solid backbone with his strong drumming, and Tery Lemanis who plays the European stringed instruments the oud and bouzouki particularly well throughout the recording.

—Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine, March/April 2008 Issue

Esthema has made a truly moving and magical musical experience

february 2008

Esthema is a World Fusion ensemble based in Boston, MA that deserves your attention. Drawing on musical styles from Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and combining them with Prog and Jazz themes is worth a listen, even if simply in respect for the sheer audacity this takes. Esthema has the goods to match its audacity with talent, reminding us all that it's only bragging if you can't back it up.

Apart From The Rest is ultimately listenable and memorable, taking your mood from Eastern European Café to Saudi Bazaar and back again. You'll tap your feet and find yourself dancing in your seat even if you're not the sort to do so. "Erimos" is a true gem here, slowing down the thought process but branching out to places you couldn't imagine a little instrumental EP going to. "Finding My Way" sounds like it should have been the soundtrack to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and you'll find the melody winding its way through your noggin long after the CD has stopped playing.

This reviewer is not generally a huge fan of instrumental records, as it is easy for instrumentalists to become self-derivative within the space of an album, but Esthema has made a truly moving and magical musical experience. They are definitely worth your time.

—Wildy Haskell, Wildy's World

...a truly exciting instrumental record

December 2007

Although they call Massachusetts home, Esthema mix up progressive Western rock styles with Eastern European folk and Middle Eastern influences on their debut album, ‘Apart From The Rest’. They call it ‘world fusion’, and that’s as good a name as any for a form of music which seems to encompass such a large part of the planet. The Middle Eastern influence is especially enticing and in parts it reminds me of Jaz Coleman and Anne Dudley’s ‘Songs From The Victorious City’ album, at other times the references are less obvious, though no less captivating. Overall, a truly exciting instrumental record, which should appeal to musical adventurers everywhere. Their Myspace page offers four of the seven tracks to audition and if they hook you, then CD Baby has it available for purchase.

—Rob Forbes, Leicester Bangs

...the seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs

November 2007

Esthema is a Massachusetts-based quintet that performs traditional Eastern/Latin (gypsy, Greek, samba) music with a solid jazz-rock foundation and flowing improvisation. I’d liken much of it to the music by those old guys who serenade the belly dancer at your local Middle Eastern restaurant – only on steroids.

The propulsive rhythms and consequent ability to build dynamic tension on a track such as “Distance,” for example, is what sets Esthema apart from a purely traditional ensemble. That, plus the seamless blend of Eastern and Western motifs: Ethnic scales and meters intertwine delightfully with jazz-rock drums and bass beneath jazzy improv and winding melodies. “Finding My Way” is a great example of the band combining these disparate elements with a melody you can hum it.

Onur Dilisen’s authoritative violin leads are complemented by Tery Lemanis on oud and bouzouki for the undeniable ethnic flavor, while drummer/percussionist Carl Sorensen adds flair via djembe and doumbek. Acoustic guitarist Andy Milas and bassist Jack Mason provide the contemporary “glue” bringing it all together.

—John Collinge, Progression, Issue 52, Fall 2007

Progression magazine is a quarterly journal of progressive music.

Esthema knows what the heck it’s doing...

August 2007

No two words scare a body like mine like world music do. Most of the time, the stuff’s created by a bunch of well-intentioned lads who drive expensive cars, wear fancy clothes and have a lot of liberal guilt over their immense financial superiority. The results are usually powerful enough to turn goat pee into rancid goat pee as said lads rarely take the time to learn how to play the instruments they claim to fascinated with. Often, they lock into a single idea, get their “we be jammin’” shtick on and go from there. Sure, I paint in broad strokes, have probably offended your Saab-toting uncle Walter (who just happens to wear suspenders and look a little bit like Barry Levinson to say nothing of how he won the county oud carving contest last summer). But all that offensive jargon, lads, was to let you know that Esthema knows what the heck it’s doing. With fine refined compositions such as “Consequence,” “For Whom? For Me” and “Finding My Way,” the Massachusetts-based quintet makes the case for not giving up on world music just yet.

— Jedd Beaudoin, Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility is a web portal for information, news, and reviews related to the worlds of progressive rock, various forms of metal, and fusion music.

Great Stuff

July 2007

I found lots to enjoy in this distinctive, very well played and solidly produced hybrid of musics. The writing was a very appealing hybrid of the music of several locales, with some Gypsy, Moroccan and Eastern European flavors. The sound of the strong violin, in combination with the guitar and Middle Eastern sounding stringed instrument (bouzouki), reminded me a good bit of Shakti, John McLaughlin's acoustic World music band, though that band was tilted more towards India and yours leans more towards Europe/Middle East. The playing was high quality and impassioned by all. The rhythm section was flexible and played with authority. Great stuff.

— TAXI, The World's Leading Independent A&R Company