I’ve said before that I think that Dutch producer and DJ Esther Roozendaal, better known as Estroe, is one of the most unique and talented artists on the scene right now. ‘Comfort and Closure’ is her second long-player, following up 2009’s ‘Elemental Assets’ on Connaisseur, and it appears on the excellent Eevonext imprint that Estroe runs with Stefan Robbers. It’s clear that it’s intended to be a very personal album, reflecting a three year period in Estroe’s life, while musically it ranges from icy, melodic breaks to ferocious, fiery house and techno, with some serious nods to disco, synth-pop, and ambient along the way. I’ll pick out some of standout moments for me here.
Opener ‘Unconscious Suppression’ provides a slow-burning, mournful beginning to the album, with its gently fluttering breakbeat, chattering hi-hats and minimal bass providing the backdrop for warped, trippy melodies and satisfying acid squelches. The different elements combine really well, and this is probably my second favourite track on the album, getting it off to a really strong start.
My favourite here is the second track, ‘Comfort in Disguise’. Perhaps earning its title, the track starts with unnerving echoing ripples, industrial breaks, and a jabbing bass, but it quickly sweetens with a simple plucked guitar riff, robotic synths, and utterly glorious sweeping strings that dominate the breakdown and the second half. This is really beautiful stuff from Estroe.
‘Happy Distraction’ kicks off with an old-school synth intro, before launching into a disco-throwback replete with a seriously funky bassline and enough woodblock to keep you sated for at least a while. What really makes the track, though, is the combination of the disco-dynamics with stunning chiming melodies wrapped in really lovely pads. After a brief percussive section, the track undergoes a change in mood, taking on a more fun, uplifting character in the second half. This won’t appeal to everybody, but for those open to being charmed by it, it’s a real highlight here.
The title track sees Estroe serve up a delightful piece of chiming ambience, immersed in smooth pads to create a moment of considerable peace and beauty.
‘False Identity’ is the first techno cut from the album, and it floats dreamy, breathy ambience over a pounding drumline and wobbly bass. The first few times I heard this, I really didn’t like the slightly detuned bass stabs that appear at a couple of junctures, but I mostly came around on them upon repeated listening.
Probably the weirdest track on here is ‘Beat Box Contest’ which pitches a marching groove and nasty bassline against an almost trancey, reverb-heavy melody that weaves its way in and out of the track, while weird effects and what sounds like a laugh-track contribute further to the seriously wonked-out feel.
Estroe’s closer, ‘Out of My Comfortzone’, is an uncompromising slab of techno, with a warm but deeply twisted bassline, mirrored by a rawer synth sound, roughing it out with type-writer hi-hats and fluttering hand-claps. The breakdown lightens the mood briefly with a spacey melody, but the bassline soon reestablishes itself as the dominant force.
A few of the tracks didn’t work so well for me. ‘Patiently Waiting for a Miracle’ felt like a bit of a let-down after the two stronger opening tracks, while a couple of the techno numbers towards the end similarly didn’t stand out so well either. But overall, this is a very welcome release from Estroe and Eevonext, with plenty of exciting and distinctive ideas on show, great artwork, and sky-high production values as you’d expect. Definitely worth checking out. 8/10