Espers – Espers

Espers
Espers

Espers is an inventive but ulimately dreary effort to integrate autoharp, dulcimer, and other Rennaissance Fair trappings with something like contemporary singer/songwriter music. The instrumentation keeps things interesting – I can listen to someone play a hammer dulcimer all day long in any context – but the project is ultimately doomed by vocal harmonies that are soft, breathy, and utterly somnolent, along with a painfully slow tempo and an absence of any sort of melodic hook. Song after song trudges forward, accented by echoes of meandering flute and the drone of a scratchy violin or e-bow guitar (described optimistically in the liner notes as “acid leads”), but they neither seem to start nor stop anywhere in particular, eventually drifting away, the next track picking up where the previous left off, which is pretty much nowhere.

With such song titles as “Flowery Noontide,” “Byss and Abyss,” “Heart and Daggers,” and “Travel Mountain,” one might reasonably expect to hear something that at very least could be safely recommended to a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan. Additionally, I was fully prepared, as someone who is decidedly not a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan to put aside whatever notions I might have about that sort of thing and listen with a fresh set of ears, but, at least on this record, Espers simply don’t offer much to hold onto.

Despite the sprinkling of old-world instruments, electronic farts, and bursts of feedback, all that is really here is a hazy fog of sound.