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Esoteric Escape

  AlexTronic Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

KESER are a Scots post rock duo who, like the best artists of the genre, mix their guitar leanings in equal part with electronica. Bold to enter such an arena, as there are so many skilful exponents not only in Scotland but also Scandinavia, which I'll extend to include Finland and Iceland. (Be sure to understand that I love the music, simply. Geography interests me far less, although I am beginning to wonder if there isn't some magic in the North Sea water!)

There is something rarified about this ambitious debut. High altitude, far-reaching, call it what you will. This is a polished, sophisticated release -- an aural panorama in twelve parts, bound together by a retro-futuristic ambience evocative of airports, cities and technology. A high speed, wide-screen dream. I think we may need our passports.

The music itself blends Boards of Canada sentimentalism with the romantic imagery of The Blue Nile. Add a dash of the cheerier side of Mogwai's guitar pickings and you've pretty much got Esoteric Escape. (That's the Young Team rather than the Come On Die Young Mogwai. Think mischief rather than melancholy.) Reading back, I realize all three of those luminaries are themselves also Scottish. No escaping shadows of such magnitude, I guess? And frankly, why would you want to?

The album opens with a couple of mood-setting pieces. All the aural cues are there. Sit down, strap in and pay close attention to the safety demonstration. Guitars come to the boil nicely but it's KESER's brave beats that ties it all together. Third up, a track to luxuriate in. The lulling hypnosis of Lost For Days pours out of my speakers like dry ice, and begins to envelope me slowly from the ankles upwards. Narrated by its bass and flirting with dub sensibilities, this could almost have been a Seefeel track. Lovely.

In the next beginning marks the start of the album's defining phase. This searing epic drops me nicely into Rolling V2, a modern spin on the gentle, early works of Durutti Column executed with panache. Teach could have been a Stafrćnn Hákon and Ulrich Schnauss collaboration . Considering it is also one of the less notable tracks on the album, I think that shows the quality of what we're talking about here. Teach does however lead nicely into another of the album highlights, Frozen fireworks. (You know it's going to be a standout from the title!). Pure Schnauss again, but with a twist in the form of a neat voiceover.

Destination destiny is a mere formulaic lull in proceedings - another rocketing climax. I prefer the KESER that isn't afraid to explore their quieter side. Yet on Page 21, guitars twinkle like a Christmas Eve sky. The atmosphere is of joy and starry-eyed wonder. A track M83 would have been proud to call their own. It shows though, how effortlessly KESER can step from one guise to the next. One moment they are a soundtrack for 70's Boeing Documentary, and the next they are Richard Dreyfus entering the Mothership in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind!

On this slick debut they've proven they can fly anything. Now, where will they take us?

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