An E.S.T. show has become the stuff of legend cause of stupid fucks like me.
Somewhere in the mid 00s while in yippeekayay country, where shotgunning a beer was equivalent to tipping your cap, I saw E.S.T. live. They sold-out rock stadiums elsewhere. But, on the long drive over to the venue, I saw a lone farmer sitting on a short stool in the middle of a field to stare at the broadside of what, I assume, was his favourite cow (aka a red-necked black-and-white moving picture show). I felt I had a fair fucking chance of getting a good seat. It was the perfect fucking venue. Sigur Rós, Múm, Björk, and the like played out the room speakers to set the mood before the band took to the stage. What came to be was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Then, in 2008, Bror Fredrik Esbjörn Svensson, one of the most successful jazz pianists at the turn of the 21st, died in a scuba diving accident at the age of 44, and E.S.T. was no longer.
Ever since, those lucky enough to have seen E.S.T. live talk about that shit as if the pope donned the art of the covenant in the middle of Woodstock ’69. There’s this really annoying thing that happens to jazzheads. Seeing a live show (here’s one from the greatest hits folks!) is so fucking different from listening to that shit at home. Sure, this is the same for all music, but the effect is drastic as all fuck when it comes to jazz. It’s no different for E.S.T. So many of their great live moments come off as heavy bags of thick, sloppy, room temp, uncle-joke filled cheese when listening to that shit on headphones.
On this album, there are glimpses of what it felt like to watch E.S.T. live. And that’s fucking impressive. At their core, E.S.T. wasn’t jazz, it was just fucking music. They didn’t concern themselves with breaking barriers or genre. They focused on conveying a certain feeling. With that came electronic manipulation, bass solos that sounded like Hendrix, understated drum solos that gave more tension and release than the employee of the month at a happy-endings massage parlour, and an insane fucking piano player. If you never heard of E.S.T. before, listening to this is the best way to get a glimpse of what they were. If you have seen E.S.T. before, this is the best way to remember them. Either way, this record is the fucking tits.