ESMA - Energomash

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2013-08-10

ESMA is a prolific, yet seemingly underexposed Italian composer, who creates worlds of sound which veer between the transparently beautiful and the beautifully strange. Eugenio Squarcia's admiration for minimalist composers such as Phillip Glass and Brian Eno comes through in his work, and Energomash is a rather stunning distillation of these influences.

Energomash adopts an even more reflective, melancholic tone than last year's The Last/Lost Atoms, and takes us into ever more blissful galaxies. It takes a while to fully absorb but you know that you're listening to something pretty special from the start. The album opens with the ethereal drones and found sounds of 'Adagio K599' - it's like slowly being lowered into a different world. This is music that won't work if you're in a hurry; it's the sound of slowing down, stopping to smell the flowers.

ESMA combines his classical leanings (he plays piano and cello) with ambient electronica. Squarcia is a forward thinking, creative and flexible composer. Energomash is not an album to put on at parties; you need time alone to appreciate the skeletal beauty of a piano-piece like 'Nor' Easter Wind' or the celestial wonderment of a piece like 'Sparkaling'. If you swoon every time someone puts on Yan Tiersen's much loved Amelie soundtrack then you'll definitely find something to love here (although Energomash takes a much more minimal, stripped-back approach).

Not that the album's all wistful piano-pieces and broken hearts. Just listen to the hypnotic, urgent repetition of 'Tesseract # 2'; the madness-inducing 'Vaudeville Instructions for a Quiet Life', or the tense closing piece. 'The Age of Anxiety'. These more overtly experimental moments make the sparse solo piano-pieces all that more effective, and make Energomash a real experience to listen to.

ESMA has made something instilled with genuine beauty. Whether you consider yourself a fan of modern-classical or not, you need to give Energomash a listen.

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