This project is the second of four distinct new album projects that will be appearing over the coming months, bringing the work of this multifaceted composer, singer, musician, producer and artist to the outside world. “Desert Songs – Memories of Rumi” was released commercially in April 2018 as a digital only release (MMC120).
Mystras in the Peloponnese is one of the most romantic places Esbe has ever visited, with its ancient churches and monasteries nestling on a lush, sleepy hillside. Once inside the monumental stone structures, your eyes become accustomed to the dark as the walls reveal their sumptuous frescoes and gilded icons. These are what’s left of the magnificent Byzantine Empire which reigned for 1500 years.
This second album doesn’t tell a story, but it does reflect some, having a loose narrative. Invoking images of Medieval knights peering through the slits in their walled citadels, olives being picked in the fields below, and pigments newly mixed in little bowls waiting to bring to life some of those gorgeous paintings. Again, Esbe’s eclectic vocal weaves melodies drawing on scales from Eastern Europe and the Troubadours, set against a contemporary arrangement of sampled sounds, conventional orchestral arrangements and folk instrumentation. Inspired by her tour of the Peloponnese and stay in the romantic medieval city of Mystras, she conjures up stories based on both the known and imagined characters who would have lived there in times past. Sometimes she explores a phonetic language, ‘these ‘words’ just flowed as I wrote – there’s a liberation in just singing syllables.’, she says. But Esbe is also comfortable writing new text and lyrics, which she blends with a strong rhythmic sense and electronic grooves, all bound together by her forte of classical instrumentation.
‘Run With Me’ has already been picked up by the folk scene with radio play around the country and on the BBC, but several other tracks will surprise and enchant. Her multi-vocal-tracked, ‘Someone, Somewhere’, is a paean to love with simple words in Turkish, and harmonies reminiscent of the ‘Voix Bulgares’. ‘Dream of Constantine’ is an emotional, wordless vocal conjuring up the glorious scenery similar to the ‘Songs of the Auvergne’. And ‘Will You Still be Waiting for Me?’, which could easily be taken for a traditional English folk song arranged by Vaughan Williams, explores nuances of harmony and orchestration, before seamlessly morphing into a North African groove taking the listener to a distant Berber wedding. Esbe’s strong visual memory permeates all she produces, with tracks such as the cinematic title track, and ‘Arcanum’, bringing the distant past to life, as if on screen.
The cover art is designed by Esbe. This serene face was partly inspired by the ancient art that also influenced two of her artistic heroes, Picasso and Modigliani.
This second album was recorded and produced in Esbe’s studio in North London, separated in both time and distance from the historic city of Mystra, but each track draws the listener into a world of intrigue, and life, love, and death.
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