6/14/17 – Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” (1988)

Since I’ve been covering seminal albums recently, thought I might start with another, and again a personal favorite – Spirit of Eden. Many music fans consider this to be the birth of the Post-Rock genre, or at the very least one of the few albums that started that new movement in Rock. Talk Talk were a pretty commercially successful band before this album, most known for their hit It’s My Life. Spirit of Eden represented a huge shift in creative focus, and one only possible because they had the time and resources to do it. They had complete control over the recording that took a year to complete, and the result is brilliance at the cost of hours and hours of improvisations. The sound of this album is tranquil and contemplative, but also volatile and explosively intense.

The Rainbow is one of the greatest Rock songs of all time, and one of the best album openers. Composer/singer Mark Hollis has absolute command over this sprawling soundscape, weaving instruments in and out in the most natural way. A jazzy, atmospheric ambiance introduces the song, setting up an eerie mood, and then the electric guitar finally smashes in after 2 minutes. But it’s not the guitar that drives the track, it’s Mark Feltham’s harmonica that introduces the band, it’s only till after he shows up does the song take form. I really can’t say enough about the harmonica on this track, it is so purely emotive and soulful that it gives me chills every time. The Rainbow bleeds into the follow up Eden, and in a way is an echo of it. As impossible it would be to follow up one of the best songs, they pull it off in that the whole album feels like two distinct halves. Eden has lots of little bubbles of intense noise that builds up then quickly pop and fade back into the quiet and calming background, a common thread especially on the first half of this album.

Desire is a continuation and growth of those musical ideas, with the most explosive chorus on the album. Hollis has a pretty unique voice, quite nasally, and I just love when he shouts out the lines “That ain’t me babe!”. I Believe In You covers a familiar topic to Rock musicians, especially in that era – heroin. It’s lamenting the “hidden hurt” that’s done by the drug, but also speaking directly to the users themselves. Complete with organ, the closer Wealth is probably their most spiritual song on the album. It’s a very serene and moving song it just feels so pure. At times it feels like there’s no background music at all, just Hollis’ stirring singing, but also visa-versa. “Take my freedom for giving me a sacred love” is such a beautiful line, and it’s the last in this masterpiece. As you probably guessed it, I feel like this is another essential album for any fan of music.

 

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