In the year 2020, the multi-instrumentalist Aurélien Goude surprised us with the first Esthesis album "The Awakening". Overall the atmosphere of the music was on the mellow side of the progressive rock spectrum. A mature sounding and consistent album. For a debut album, this is extraordinary and remarkable. Now there is a second Esthesis album under the name "Watching Worlds Collide".
Aurélien Goude - keyboards and vocals, lap steel guitar (4, 6), guitar (2), harmonica (7), drum/FX programming (3), bass programming (6); Baptiste Desmares - lead guitar; Marc Anguill - bass guitar; Arnaud Nicolau - drums
Additional backing vocals (1, 2, 4, 6) by Mathilde Collet
P-Horns section (1, 2, 4, 5, 7) : Maceo Le Fournis (tenor saxophone), Axel Foucan (trombone), Yannis Beugré (trumpet) ; Mathieu Vilbert (3, 8) - Violin; Vincent Blanot (4) - Banjo, electric banjo, mountain dulcimer, percussions
The album opens with the song "Amber" (6:46). There are some minor similarities with their debut album in terms of atmosphere, but the music is much more powerful now and you get more of a real band sound. Personally, as a fan of "The Awakening" I have to get used to that. But you can find nice instrumental parts and lovely melodies in this for me surprising first track.
Fortunately the vocals often still have that relaxed atmosphere of their debut. Just listen to "Place Your Bets" (7:24) which also has jazzy atmospheres. There is even a horn section on 5 of the 7 tracks of this album. (The first pressing of 500 copies has an extra bonus track, an alternative version of "Skimming Stones" (5:12) which you will find here as the third track. A very nice song with nice vocal melodies and a beautiful violin solo. My first personal highlight of the album.
" Wandering Cloud" (6:00) also has that relaxed atmosphere with nice vocals and a jazzy guitar. The female backing vocals also fit well with the whole. Only the horn section is not really my thing, I would have left that out. But this may be a personal preference.
The next track "Vertigo" (5:01) opens with a spacious jazzy piano but soon the song gains more power with heavy electric guitar and organ parts. But it still sounds very jazzy. Just listen to the bass and guitar parts. In the second part there is also a freaky guitar solo, and that horn section again.
Then it's time for the longest track on the album. "57th Street" (12:00) has again a nice relaxed opening with dreamy vocals and beautiful melody lines. Here you can also hear the beautiful keyboard orchestrations. The song has the necessary variation to keep it exciting and keep the attention of the listener. In the last part the music gets more powerful and then seems to work towards a climax for a while before beautiful keyboard layers bring back the relaxed vocals.
The album ends with the song "Through My Lens" (8:08). Because of the saxophone in the beginning you think you will be presented with a jazzy song, but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the saxophone at the end, this varied song is actually the song with the highest progressive rock content. The album gets a strong ending with the songs "57th Street" and "Through My Lens".
Esthesis' second album "Watching Worlds Collide" surprised me by the slightly different instrumentation and the strong influences from jazz. The album sounds more powerful and more varied than their debut, but on the other hand it also sounds a bit less consistent. Keep in mind that this is an album that will grow through multiple listens. My personal highlights are "Skimming Stones", "Wandering Cloud", "57th Street" and "Through My Lens". If you, like me, are still very charmed by the debut album "The Awakening" I recommend you to listen to this new album first.