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Boomkat Product Review:
Since the last Espers album, the various band members have remained scene leaders on the contemporary acid-folk circuit. Meg Baird has pursued solo work, collaborating with Sharron Kraus and fellow Esper Helena Espvall, who has herself launched a successful Drag City collaboration with Ghost's Masaki Batoh, while Otto Hauser moonlights as Vetiver's drummer and Greg Weeks curates a record label (Language Of Stone), having embarked upon countless production projects with new artists. The band's influence runs so deeply within the psychedelic folk community that when they re-convene for a brand new album it has the feel of quite an event, and Espers III is a suitably heavy piece of work, full of typically ornate arrangements and scholarly acknowledgements to this music's 1970s heyday. In a nod to the darkness and deep, thicket-like density of Espers II the recording strategy here has been streamlined, resulting in cleaner, less labyrinthine productions. Consequently, the likes of 'I Can't See Clear', the unusually poppy 'Caroline' and 'The Pearl' place greater emphasis on a song's acoustic skeleton, with the latter in particular distinguishing itself as a relatively unfettered exercise in vintage pastoral loveliness, complete with billowing cello arrangement and feathery, hissing cymbals. Throughout this record, at every turn Weeks' fuzztone lead guitar passages work their way around the mix like creeper vines, and some of the more elaborate arrangements can be punctured somewhat by their needling insistency. Even so, these songs are big enough - and long enough - to take a bit of Big Muff (or similar) abuse. Recommended.