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on 27 February 2011
I have the owned the first Espers album and a couple of tracks off the second for a while, after hearing the blissful Children Of Stone and recognising that something very special was afoot. I ordered a copy of this album and then eagerly set about the internet reading reviews for it. Perhaps I was putting the cart before the horse there, as I soon found myself wondering if it had been a rash choice, when the majority of the reviews I found turned out to be rather tepid, describing the album as being a failed attempt to couple the strong points of the first album with aspects of the second to conjure something greater still, or of cluttering the songs with excess noise. When the cd arrived I was therefore a little cautious, and braced for disappointment.

First impressions were not unlike those online reviews: I heard moments of stark beauty drifting by, and alluring songcraft harking back to classic British folk-rock, with some quite lovely singing, accompanied by sonic intrusions that seemed to walk a fine line between embellishing and vandalising their delicate balance. In particular the frequent disturbances made by the buzzing electric guitar drones swiftly lost their appeal, and began to sound like the neighbour's circular saw cutting into tranquility. So, after the first listen I was siding with some of the critics, and I can only wonder if said critics didn't bother to spend much more time with the album than their first listen, because two or three listens later I found I had become very fond of most of the songs, (even growing to like those swooping skreeking violin refrains on Sightings, which I felt sure would always grate) and the circular saw simile seemed un-necessary as everything coalesced.

I particularly like the first four songs, gems all, that create their own hushed microcosms, such exquisite tunes and wise choice of textures, and some truly lovely singing from both Meg and Greg, for song after song... It is easy to forget about the world and take on the shapes of these pieces while they last. Meg's singing has traces of Celia Humphries and Jacqui McShee, and a delicateness that brings to mind Rachel Goswell. Greg sounds more contemporary somehow, whilst Meg really seems to embody something of the late 60's and early 70's folk-rock scene, and the combination of the two of them singing together is very effective.

There is strangeness aplenty throughout the album, sometimes just in the form of a shifting backdrop of shapes that inhabit the peripheral vision, at other times more centrally situated, as on Colony, which plunges headlong into a heady ritualistic space with disembodied vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards building to passages of glissading electric guitar, snatches of tumbling percussion not unlike some early Pink Floyd perambulations, and a grinding, crackling peak. It has the potential to be a lot longer, but Espers choose to keep it fairly brief, in keeping with the rest of this album. Closing track Trollslanda doesn't go where the title seems to suggest, but brings things around to the relaxed mood of early tracks, whilst also sounding like a perfect exit.
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on 15 September 2010
Psychedelic folk is by far my favourite music genre but good albums are hard to find. This is definitely one. It's so easy to classify - think late 60s revival English folk. When it got really good. As in Trees or Spirogyra. Then you're there. I liked the earlier Espers but in a ho-hum way. This sounds like a different group. A far better one. The songs are stronger. The band is tighter. There is less fidgeting about. Because there is no need to overly "grace-note" the tracks : the band know the basics are brilliant.

However I must take issue with part of David Sheppard's otherwise excellent BBC review above. Espers have not found their Sandy Denny. Nobody finds a Sandy Denny. End of. But Meg Baird is a superb vocalist with a beautiful delivery which is , for me , very reminiscent of the magical Celia Humphris. Meg is that good. But she never even sounds like Sandy whose voice is/was so utterly original and much deeper/richer.

This is a brilliant album - particularly if you felt Espers were close to something special in the past but were not quite getting there. They've arrived here.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2010
I am not quite sure about Ianham's review but he(?) got one thing indisputably right: the Five Star Rating. Much as I enjoyed their previous albums I hesitated before buying this, ultimately, I suppose, because I wondered if there was any room for improvement on those albums but also I had been worn down waiting(3+ years)for this instalment to arrive.

Well I should have had a little more faith, as this comfortably surpasses their previous albums, indeed, this sees them reach a new level and claim a sound that is truly their own. In the past the band have, naturally, been compared to Fairport/Incredible String Band, amongst others, but here they reign in some of the multilayered production trickery and this tilts the balance away from the latter and towards the former. Some may be disappointed but this, it seems to me, concentrates the attention on the songs more, which are revealed to be very good indeed. The immediate standouts tend to be the Meg Baird sung songs but this is hardly surprising and you soon find the others to be excellent too, in particular the instrumental support seems stronger and less prone to eccentric wandering than on previous recordings.

In summary I think this their best to date and, probably, their most accessible too. So for old fans or the inquisitive I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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VINE VOICEon 15 November 2009
Why would I want to buy this if I hadn't already. This CD is not for the unitiated and by that I mean a backgound in wyrdy beardy magikal mystical psychedelic folk. Think incredible string band or Goryky's Zygotic Mynky (do you spell it that way?).Perhaps a dash of very early Fairport and a snifter of Trees. Serve with a smidgen of Mazzy Star with added mellotron. Lazy Autumn days with fine sherry or mushroom soup of your choice.Very psychedelic and rural super with nice fire and good woman or even better, a bad one (woman not sherry). As for the tracks I must single out Another Moon Song not only because of the magniicent mellotron but also because it neatly dovetails with Nick Castro's Sun Song {another working genius.)So grow a wyrdy beard and buy with confidence.

I commend this cd to the house.
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on 6 April 2015
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