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TOM MOON, BYLINE: And finally this hour, a review of an album that's hard to classify. It comes from the instrumental group E.S.T. In 2007, during a tour, the members recorded about two albums' worth of material, but before it could be released, the group's leader, Esbjorn Svensson, died in a scuba accident. Now, some of those recordings have been collected on an album called "301." And our critic Tom Moon says it's some of E.S.T.'s finest work.

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MOON: Usually, the posthumous album is a downer, a collection of discarded experiments and scraps that don't add much to a legacy. That's not the case with "301."

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MOON: E.S.T. was often described as a jazz ensemble because its music was primarily instrumental and its long treks into the unknown were driven by group improvisation. Really, though, these musicians were sound sculptors. They used strange drones, effects and distortion to lure listeners into surprisingly colorful textures. They drew on jazz, but were defiantly not jazz.

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MOON: Playing together for more than a decade, the three musicians of E.S.T. developed an extraordinary sense of interplay. Listen to this conversation from the early stages of a 14-minute piece on this album.

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MOON: Pianist Esbjorn Svensson works this fairly simple phrase for a while. It gradually gathers momentum until that kernel of a thought has been twisted around and transformed into this musical thunderbolt.

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MOON: That's E.S.T. at its most absorbing, off on extended journeys that weave together rock rhythms, free improvisation, classical chord clusters and weird sound effects - some from a vintage transistor radio. I've followed the trio for years, and I have to admit I was surprised by the intensity of this release. Fans of the band used to say you've got to see them live to understand them. They were mostly right. In performance, these three attained a ferociousness that was rarely captured on studio recordings - until now. It's impossible to see E.S.T. live anymore. But the kinetic "301" is, in every sense, the next best thing.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The album "301" is by the group E.S.T. Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

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