Mechanics of Dominion

by Jim Di Gioia

October 18, 2017

Mechanics of Dominion is a beguiling, cautionary tale about the resiliency and determination of the human spirit.


Those familiar with Rebecca Foon’s solo work under the moniker Saltland will no doubt recognize the narrative themes linking the eight compositions on Mechanics of Dominion—the latest release from Esmerine, Foon’s collaboration with Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumnus Bruce Cawdron: climate is warming, tensions are mounting, and civilization’s very existence seems perilously close to extinction; earth is at peak crisis.

Mechanics of Dominion is, as its press release so eloquently states, both a “requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world”. Where the tendency may be to focus on the negative, Esmerine ensure that there’s beauty enough to balance out the tragedy. “La Plume Des Armes” is sparkling and playful, even as dark, droning strings creep into the mix mid-way through. There’s a real sense of urgency and energy to these songs, in particular the title track, thanks in large part to the prominence of percussion instruments. Glockenspiel and marimba provide a soft, loamy surface on which to build intricate and elegant compositions like “La Penombre”.

While the foundations of Mechanics of Dominion may be based on our dying planet and cultures, hope, optimism, and a belief that all is not lost is what ultimately drives the album onwards and upwards. Each compositions builds upon the last, twists the narrative arc, and tells a beguiling, cautionary tale. Earth is at peak crisis, but it is exactly in times like these when the resiliency and determination of the human spirit is at its strongest. Esmerine are sounding a call and asking, “Who will answer?”

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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