healthyliving – until/below; Esses – Bloodletting for the Lonely (2021)

Here we have two more noteworthy releases from last year. The first, a two-track single, debut release of a collaborative trio from Scotland and Germany; the other an album by a veteran deathrock quintet from the San Francisco Bay Area.


healthylivinguntil/below (self-released, 25 June 2021)


EssesBloodletting for the Lonely (Bat-Cave Productions / Atakra Records, 06 August 2021)


Did you know that more murders are committed at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Not that this has anything to do with these songs by healthyliving — just an interesting factoid I thought I’d pass along.

Promotional materials for the band classify them as Shoegaze, but also cite their “stripped down approach” to both visual and auditory art — which taken together feels kind of oxymoronic. To this listener, specifically judging by the seven-and-a-half-minute sample size provided here, the music seems to more closely resemble early-to-mid-80s goth/post-punk. Although a similar minor-key, dark tonality pervades both tracks, they emanate very different vibes: while “until” is more energetic and in-your-face, “below” is much more lethargic and dreamy, almost like a gothic-folk lullaby.




On today’s second release, Oaklanders Esses present nine tracks stuffed within a half-hour running time. Post-punk and goth are certainly touchpoints here as well, although the band is primarily known as deathrock. Within the rhythms and melodies here one might find comparisons ranging from The Birthday Party to Bauhaus, and singing that lives somewhere along the Siouxsie Sioux / Dale Bozzio continuum — but at least as much as any of these, both musically and vocally I think Bloodletting for the Lonely should find a happy home within the collection of any Christian Death fans out there. It may sound crazy, but specifically I’m imagining CD covering “In the Flat Fields” in a similar style to their version of “Panic in Detroit” as the most appropriate descriptor for what Esses are doing here.





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