Essen Tape 1

7th September 2022

Format Info


LTD to 50

Essen is to eat and Essen is the solo project of Vital Idle and ex-Golden Grrrl Ruari MacLean. Recorded in solitude in the depths of Glasgow, somewhere, anywhere, Essen showcases MacLean’s songwriting, chops and developing aesthetic. “Tape 1” is an off-the-cuff, guitar-heavy mini slab of DIY homestudio pleasure for the heads. It’s the sound of a musician unshackled from democracy and experimenting with song forms, choppy riffs and various vocal modes; put simply it sounds like a weirdo having fun.

If in his previous singing incarnation, as one of three vocalist in Golden Grrrls his timbre was low and rumbling, with Essen there’s clear annunciation to meet the clarity of the guitar playing. If anything the West of Scotland accenting reminds us a little of someone like Yummy Fur – the slashing, wiry guitar parts help that comparison along – the vocals are interjected into the songs, mildly pissed off, commentating just under the mix on what sounds like, I don’t know, town planning, shipping, personal relationships, architecture… it all colludes to create a slightly warped worldview that’s a heck of fun to live in for the duration. “Blues Partner Delusion” has an almost classic rock chord progression that’s twisted just enough to sound like it’s Television or one of the pre-punks gently simmering their music. Joy has a lurching rhythm and criss-crossing guitars that again recall Tom Verlaine while All Too Much has wondering, treble-boosted guitars and angular rhythms that remind us a little bit of Kleenex / Liliput actually. Side A ends with a strangled instrumental that questions rather than answers.
Mind On The Block opens the second side and reminds, with its staccato rhythm and vocal layers, of Piper-era Pink Floyd (so, Syd Barrett) and with some inspired mixing choices also has an air of Royal Trux maybe? Like, percussive flurries just flying out of nowhere over a synth solo in a big instrumental jam with himself? Haggerty’s eating his heart out. After another instrumental interlude, The Curtain has a Swell Mapsy feel, ragged and propelling itself along but actually having a gently psychedelic seam running through it. Reminds us a little of 39 Clocks maybe?
Can’t wait for Tape 2.