Formed in Brooklyn in 1998, The Essex Green released four albums between 1999 and 2006. They became one of the few bands from the Northeast to be associated with the groundbreaking Elephant 6 Collective. Their unique blend of harmony-infused pop music culminated in the 2006 release of Cannibal Sea.
Sasha Bell, Jeff Baron, and Christopher Ziter were last seen together in the late aughts, waving from their van as they bid farewell to Brooklyn. And then, the unthinkable: The Essex Green went silent. But why? Legal cannabis? Climate change? Bad oysters? Nothing so dramatic. It was a simple promise made among them to chase down their separate dreams: Baron to build a houseboat and navigate the mighty Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers; Ziter to return to his home state of Vermont and lead local fermentation efforts; and Bell to decamp to Montana to study elk rutting.
Having achieved their goals or not, they vowed to break their silence in secret on the frigid waters of Lake Champlain during the blood moon eclipse of 2015 when the effect of the moon in Libra would be most powerful. Over the next two years, the three continued to meet and record in undisclosed locations. The result is Hardly Electronic, a music mapping of the trio’s personal journeys over the past decade.
Fans will recognize The Essex Green’s signature sound in this work of wax: stacks of harmonies, upbeat melodies telling melancholy tales, layers of keys and sparkling Telecasters. Their time-honored custom of fusing obsession with spontaneity has been refined through experience and wisdom.
Hardly Electronic explores the evolution of old friendships, the sadness of losing touch, the inadequacies of technology, and finally, the desire for reconnection with songs like “Bye Bye Crow” and “Slanted by Six.” Themes of connectivity for the online generation are on display in the war cry chorus of “Don’t Leave It in Our Hands,” while songs like “Bristol Sky” and “January Says” hint at how the same technology-connected culture can create division and distance, even in the most personal of relationships. On the flip side, the wonders of technology (and jumbo jets) made the recording possible. With Bell living in Montana, Ziter in Vermont, and Baron on the river, finding ways to work together was challenging. The result is classic Essex Green sonic diversity.