Esem :: Aquanaut EP (Self-Released)

Aquanaut is a fully realized and beautifully constructed EP that feels genuinely substantial in spite of the relatively brief running time.

Anyone who remembers now defunct labels like M3rck, DeFocus and Neo Ouija will probably remember Esem. Bulgarian-born but now UK resident, George Marinov is a veteran of the Demoscene movement, releasing numerous tracks and the Scateren album on Kahvi Collective as well as the two excellent and fundamentally different albums Enveloped for DeFocus and Serial Human on M3rck, for which he is best known.

Clocking in at just over seventeen minutes, the Aquanaut EP is his first output since 2005, offering a fleeting but tantalizing glimpse of what any forthcoming new material from Marinov might be like.

“Dive” is a one plus minute introduction of delicate wind chimes, crystalline organ drones and shimmering fx with droplets of static, establishing a distinct character in record time. “Resilients” recalls the sparse, clipped and sibilant minimalism of the finest moments of Serial Human, percussive clonks, ice-chip hit hats and pitch-bending shards of frost. “Bioluminescence” picks out cut-up and off-kilter music box melodies, sucks them through hollow tubes and expels them on glinting, snowdrift washes and tuning fork sine-waves. Only “Ssyeru” deviates from the generally chilly tones and textures of the rest of Aquanaut as a chunkier bass tones that fondly recall his earlier work on Enveloped embrace a more acoustic palette with clattering beats. Final track “Found And Lost” fuses the skyscraper-cut skyline techno of The Detroit Escalator Company with delicate piano and chill wind ambiance, clicking and buzzing until the frosty mixture turns to water and steam before being washed away in an echoing, hissing outro.

Aquanaut is a fully realized and beautifully constructed EP that feels genuinely substantial in spite of the relatively brief running time. It’s clear that a lot of love and attention to detail has been poured into this, right down to Denitsa Blagoeva five, track-specific pieces of artwork tagged to each individual file. Quite simply, this is rewarding electronic music of the highest order. Investigate immediately.

Aquanaut is available on Bandcamp.

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