Monday, 16 June 2008

e.s.t. - listening in the dark

Listening in the dark, I first heard your music on French radio. The announcers questioned your quirky titles. They played around, trying out different pronunciations and accentuation. Their throaty accents made English words sound terribly posh and their French was too fast and full of giggles for me to fully understand. Then they played another track. They were making jokes but they were seriously into sharing your work.

It was late, but I had heard something that exploded my interest wide awake. The inside of my head was resounding with your music and the spaces in between. This was a new sound, a new energy, a new playfulness, a new ensemble exploring wonderful voices. It seemed to have a clear and bright optimism shining through it, even though it also delved to explore dark places. I loved the titles that seemed to play with words and how it sounded like you were having a ball and an adventure.

Later - albums, iPod, telling friends, many repeat plays, trying out musical ideas like you used them, listening to what people were saying about you, finding myself playing the piano more than usual. Then I saw you play live. 

What struck me most was the way that music came to life and drew people in, all of it - the clarity, the energy, the silences, the drones, the grooves, the shimmering whispers, the echoes, the train track machine sounds, the forging ahead, the hint of Gamelan gongs, the prepared piano sounds, the vulnerable breaking voice of the bass in it's high register, the splutter and flutter of drum flicks, the unknown paths we went exploring that night and that wonderful lift you generated with a flood of lyrical threads.

Tonight, as the tributes pour in, I am listening to you in the dark again. You helped me remember to be playful in my music. Thank you, Esbjorn Svensson for being such an inspiration.

Esbjorn Svensson, pianist in the band e.s.t., died at the weekend.