Essonite – Through The Hourglass: An Album Review

Essonite through the hourglass

I normally don’t do full length album reviews, but I felt compelled on this one. One of my favorite artists in the entire planet is Pretty Lights. When I first went to one of his shows back in 2010, I was hooked. I felt as if a bomb was dropped on my head, and I was mad that I hadn’t been made aware of this scene before. It was the funkiest showcase of electronic music that I’ve ever been a part of. The three piece production team, Essonite, from Philadelphia, give me those Pretty Light chills that I remember from way back when from their new album, Through The Hourglass.

I wrote about Essonite before, on their EP, Within Living MemoryCLICK HERE to read my thoughts and listen to the EP. I said at the end that I couldn’t wait to hear what they came up with next. My expectations were blown out of the water on Through The Hourglass.

Essonite is a 3 piece live electronic band that fully encompasses 45 soul, to dark downbeat electronic using modular sounds, vinyl modification, and a complex musical environment and organization. The three of them are on drums, guitar, and modular synthesis. The trio is comprised of  Martin Esser (synths), Will Loftus (guitar), and Alec Powell (drums).

This is their first full length album release. The album took 11 month, hours upon hours of meticulous sample searching, late nights, and mixing and mastering rabbit holes they got lost in.  I normally don’t have the attention span to listen to a full-length anymore, but this one had me hooked from beginning until end.

The first four songs of the album reminded me a LOT of pretty lights. Then I got to The Queen’s Bells, which took me off into a much more psychedelic funk atmosphere with a variety of heavy layers and complex atmospheres. The atmospheric value of all of these songs was a technique I truly heard and appreciated. It gave weight to each song, and you can hear they put a lot of time and effort into the space and ambiance of each.

Lake of Gold was another song on their track that took me to another space funk-wise and psychedelic-wise. I’d say what had me thinking of Pretty Lights is a lot of their vocal sampling of complex funk and old school sounds, something I’ve always wanted to hear more of in modern electronic music. How I’d say the trio is different than Pretty Lights is this floating a psychedelic sensation, really spreading the energy out throughout the entire track. Pretty Lights is creating his live band show because he knows that’s the next level, and Essonite’s music sounds precisely like a live band.

There is simply so much emotion that comes from the ambiance and arrangement of each track, with narratives ranging from uplifting to the darkest places. For some darkness, listen to Todo Triste (Sin Ti). You can tell these guys are as serious about music as it gets, just from hearing the weight of each song.

Second Movement has a bit more of a hip-hop vibe. Similar to when Lettuce brings in hip-hop artists to rap over their funky beats. Then with a dubstep climax, my soul got twisted. I can’t keep myself from going, “oh my GOD,” at each transition. The care and narrative through each part is unreal in my opinion.

Beyond The Clouds (feat. Artifakts) at 1:50 also twisted my soul. Another way to describe twisting my soul is blowing my mind, or giving me the chills. It’s Monday, and this entire album is making me feel like it’s Friday.

The entire album is a MUST LISTEN. The entire thing worked so well together, it’s hard for me to suggest one particular song. I dono how these guys aren’t huge yet, but I’m so inclined to rush to any of their live shows. I simply must see what they can do live.

Chris Stack

After graduating from Kenyon College, Chris Stack joined a branding and marketing startup, BrandYourself (as seen on SharkTank), in New York City. After leading the company to grow past profitability as a leading account manager, Chris set his sights on his passion: music. He currently runs his own LLC in New York City, helping musicians in the city with their online presence and marketability. A native of the Washington DC area, Chris Stack's passions and hobbies include music production (8 years on Ableton), marketing, baseball (Mets), football (Ravens), Netflix n chillin, and the experience economy.

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