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Esselfortium – “Seventeen More Times” Review

Esselfortium exploded onto my radar last week and now having obtained a copy of his second album “Seventeen More Times” I intend to be keeping the talented man on my radar for a long, long time to come.

The album is a cinematic one – to newcomers think Moby, a cinematic Lamb, Adam Fielding. All that fall for this tripping electro cinescope soundshower will fall instantly for Esselfortium.

Opener “Quantum Magic” is a warm uplifting celestial piece that flows with hope and grandeur, almost like your surveying a vast vista before a journey. It’s bass and trip-hop drum beat pulse out but its the keyboard synths that bleed across the speakers that sets the mood most. “Zwei” swishes to the electronica side of things with grizzly bass lines and a drum n bass beat bursting through while various arpeggios and futuristic sounding keyboards patter away behind the pulse. It’s an epic space voyage that sounds like its straight from a sci-fi. “Invis” is more noir with pitch bending whirling keyboards and some major hard-hitting tom drums upping the tension and drama. For some reason it sounds like a cross to me between Silent Hill and Terminator in style and ambience.

“Treetops” changes its feel for a more zen like approach with bulbous chimes and electro-sitars underpinning the score. Coming across slightly eerie and relaxing at the same time, it strikes a unique balance and for that reason its become a personal favourite. “Descent” bursts in as quickly as the previous song ends with a dissonance and twisted frequency track as different instruments are distorted and flanged to pieces. The result is almost like an ear popping musical experience except a whole lot pleasurable! It’s a great experimental piece.

“Hibernator (White Moon)” is a chugging industrial track full of all kinds of metallic power tool beats that scream factory loudly. The actual melody hides behind the sheer power of the percussive elements and humming that go around it but it makes for an atmospheric piece. “Dirac” returns to electronica roots with a pounding beat and a lot of trance trickery that interconnects and power chords itself perfectly for a uplifting trance inducing euphoria. It ebbs away into steam punk triphop heaven “Other/Self” which is a fantastic track of angst, edge and grit. It reminds me of soundtracks for 2D platforming shoot-em-up games where you’re selecting your weapons and getting a mission brief. A lot of this album would work perfectly in a video game environment as well as a film soundtrack and this is a great example of this. “Final Outpost” takes the previous’ tracks steampunk grunge tech-noir vibe and pushes the noise down to a crunch, taking all the brightness out of the music and making it a hard slog. It’s dripping in atmosphere and hardcore appeal. It’s like grungey low-fi and would sound great in any sneaking FPS mission (someone say Metal Gear?)

“Introjection” is a fantastic track. Crossing over to a music style similar to Apollo440, this track starts off really electro-techno and gradually layers and layers itself until it becomes almost profoundly brilliant. The cinematic strings that serenade the background remind me of Phillip Glass and the Chronos / Koyannisqatsi music and it just feels so big and immersive. Another favourite. “18 Apostolos” is a much more chilled track that gently guides its keyboards around a lovely new age melody. It reminds me of an end credits piece in many ways with added 80’s flair. “Light of the Soul” is a more ambient piece that slowly evolves and builds up beautifully. It’s classic chill out and one of the more straightforward tracks in production and song structure. It’s a wonderfully delicate track and yet another stand out.

“Apollo (Black Moon)” returns to a more gritty low-fi setting like the title suggests, with darker, pitch bent bass sine waves harking back to retro commodore 64 sounds and updating them for a new generation. It feels very sci-fi, very progressive and yet something very familiar all at the same time. “The Beast That Shouted “I” At the Heart of the World” possibly wins best title of a track in 2011. It again comes across a noir-ambience and uses a great choral sample to eerie effect and a lot of distortion techniques. Everything hypes itself up on each run through and it feels very much like Apollo’s bigger, meaner brother! I love the way how everything ends up over processed for a very specific sound and feel. It really attacks your senses and pushes you to rock out full throttle. “Close Hands / Open Hands” is a small requiem track that bridges you over to the finale “Andante”. The closing track in absolutely euphoric. It’s really where the Moby / Phatboy Slim on chillout references all come from. It’s a great way to come full circle and round off the album with a fresh hope renewed and reborn.

“Seventeen More Times” is an album best enjoyed as a whole. There’s different cycles throughout the album and each one plays its act in setting up the next track. You won’t feel the absolute rebirth of “Andante” if you havent crawled the depths of the previous three tracks. For that, for its craftmenship and for his ability to form absolutely storming tracks in all different guises, Esselfortium’s latest album is a triumph. Make this your 2011 new artist discovery.

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