REVIEW: Esion - "En Route"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

En RouteI first heard of Esion on the Detroit Electronica Coalition's compilation D[electronic]T. I found Esion's contribution to the disc, a song called You Are Hear, to be a highlight of the CD and promised myself then I would look into them. Now, after a delay during which sole artist of the group wanted to put together a small press kit to send to me as well, I received Esion's third release - En Route.

I am enthralled by the music held here. A rhythmically compelling yet smooth and comforting collection of music, Don's approach is one of synth-pop without the clutter. A balanced combination of trance and EBM, Esion's work is beautifully arranged and stunning in its melodies and movements. Don's command of the synthesizers, keyboards and drum machines is wide and varied and flows naturally, smoothly and beautifully from one track to the next.

En Route opens with Xero-G. This track is smooth and grooving. Scraping samples that appear on either side of your head during play, switching from right to left speaker, give the track a just-enough-computer feel while the vocals are enchanting and human - a nice contradictory combination. There is really a lot of speaker-switch play throughout this track. Jumping to the third track, I found 13 Machine to be a highlight of the album. The rhythm and slap-stick drum track is complicated and wonderful. The vocals are smooth and well sung with a rap-like speed to some of the lyrics. "It's alright with me."

Continuing on with highlight after highlight (the entire CD shines, quite matter of fact), here's some thoughts on probably my favorite track on the album - Looking For the Honey. This one features heavy drum and bass accompaniment to a bright keyboard melody. A nice combination. Again, rhythm and smooth is still the norm even though the bass might drone underneath, supporting the vocals and low, barely audible synthesizer melody during the vocals. We're going to groove on up to track six now and take a look at Sixinthemone. Again, smooth rhythms but with a poppier bass line. Vocals are rap-centric with slang-style class and savoir faire. The bass actually opens with a metallic twang to it - a synthesis of steel and keys.

Lest you think that there's nothing but awesome tracks here, there is one I don't like. The final listed track, Lilo; I'm not too intrigued by this one. There isn't enough of a rhythm section to keep it together. The experimentalist style is nice, but Esion does much better with a rhythm or backbeat toward which the keyboards, synths and samples can be applied. Lilo kind of looses it's footing. But Don makes up for this one with a hidden track in location 24. No name, but a loose rhythm, low-tone opening with synthesizer effects - can't even call them melodies, just effects - kicks in. Very sliding mood with a lot of ticking sounds and complication. Well arranged. More and more builds on top. It comes off like a well-done heavy trance or goa ensemble.

Don Kline a.k.a. Esion has hybridized EBM, old (Kraftwerk/computeresque) style industrial and the new rave goa/trance that I've found sweeping the underground here in NYC. You can work to this background, dance to this background, sing along with the verses and alliteration playfulness. Don't want to take my word for it? No problem - take the word of the Detroit Music Awards, who nominated Esion as "Best Industrial Artist."

Contact Information:
Post: Esion, P.O. Box 1258, Ann Arbor, MI, 48106-1258
Phone: (734) 480-7880

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