ESTER DRANG – by tom maxwell
What started as an ambient bass driven bleeps and measures outfit making their bid to become the Beethoven of modern day experimental rock has become a quaint younger brother to bands that make up their own languages like Sigur Ros. Hearing a dorky fat kid from San Diego say their favorite band is Sigur Ros and hearing the large bastard gasp for air as he attempts to pronounce the band’s name with a Spanish accent lets any well endowed cognitive thinking organism know what a profound effect Sigur Ros has had on music. I’ll be god damned before anyone can convince me that Ester Drang shouldn’t be praised for their less acclaimed releases. After the ever intoxicating, head-bobbing releases “Golden West” and “That is When He Turns Us Golden” on the venerable labels Burnt Toast Vinyl and Red Crown Record Empire, I knew this band had the most spectral dissipating arrangements I had heard in my entire life. Both of these releases are infused with multi themed harmonies, off beat time signatures, and an obvious love for their respective counterparts. The only exercise I can think of to describe these releases is they’re like a shinny flag blowing in a calm gentle wind with just enough sun reflection to blind your eyes, but not so strong that you don’t keep staring at the reflection as if in a trance. All I want to do is take a scenic drive at 85 miles per hour with the cruise control on. Just when I thought Ester Drang couldn’t be any more cerebral, their first Jade Tree release “Infinite Keys” starts playing in my headphones for the very first time and hits me like a lethal injection of emotions. My brain drifts away in the ideas and propositions of a human mind and I reach euphoria. I hear elements of Starflyer 59, the Sea and Cake, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, but mainly for the first time I realized how much this band reminds me of My Bloody Valentine. You could have asked me what My Bloody Valentine would sound like if they turned down the pop and started staring at the stars and I wouldn’t be able to come up with a better comparison than this. 2003 was a fantastic year for music, but I think many albums will go down as far underrated and “Infinite Keys” is at the top of the list. This band creates god damn masterpieces.