Following the posthumous release of Leucocyte in 2008, only months after the untimely death of pianist Esbjörn Svensson, it seemed as though that album would represent e.s.t.’s final studio statement. Now, nearly four years later, 301 has emerged. It was recorded during the same sessions, whilst the Swedish trio were touring around Asia and Australia. The disc is named after the 301 Studios in Sydney.
Retrospective – The Very Best Of e.s.t. is a fantastic and reflective insight into this extraordinary band, an excellent starting point for newcomers to their music and a definitive signpost along the way for those who have already begun their journey into the world of e.s.t.
Already on the first piece, "The Message", the album’s tone is made clear. It originates out of the so-called "free play" that was recorded in May 2001.The soft, gospel-like quality of "the Message", in which Jan Johansson’s ubiquitous spirit can be felt, is not really typical for E.S.T.
is the first independent profile that exhibits the three musicians in their present form. The 13 original compositions show them as sensitive masters of communication with the penchant for transforming simple, pretty melodies into complex networks of motifs.
Together now for over a dozen years, e.s.t. has clearly developed a number of personal stylistic markers. Blending improvisation with a distinct pop sensibility that includes subtle use of electronics—with the exception of Dan Berglund's aggressive fuzztone arco bass—the trio has honed a sound incorporating elements of drum 'n' bass, electronica, funk, pop, classical and rock, without losing sight of its own voice. Often spoken of in the same breath as The Bad Plus, e.s.t. is the more elegant alternative, with considerably more finesse and richer colors than TBP's bombastic and monochromatic approach.
Ten of the most beloved songs by Monk, from nocturnal, lovingly caressing „`Round Midnight“ to the gay and sprightly „Rhythm-A-Ning“, gets here a becomingly shining new colour.
An excellent package that highlights where they've been and where they're going, the North American release of Seven Days of Falling is an event that has been all too long in coming.
Like so many American players, Sweden's Esbjörn Svensson has backed his share of pop artists but is essentially a jazz improviser at heart. Svensson's enthusiasm for improvisation came through loud and clear on his Dragon dates of the 1990s, one of which was the decent When Everybody Has Gone.