Before Spirit of Eden
was released Talk Talk were a big part of the 80's new-wave scene. Surprising everybody the trio went from playing gleeful pop music to suddenly creating a whole new genre, post-rock. Spirit of Eden
is arguably the first post-rock album to ever be released but the problem is that three years later Talk Talk released Laughing Stock
which is considered to be a monumental post-rock album by several post-rock fans and critics. Spirit of Eden
was supposedly a bust by numerous critics, not to mention that it suffers from being overshadowed by Laughing Stock
. Talk Talk’s record label forced them to release a single off of their album so they released I Believe in You
and it was extremely unsuccessful, soon after the release of the single Spirit of Eden
was quickly forgotten.
While Spirit of Eden
is a post-rock influenced record it shows some minor influences of jazz and ambient. The jazz influences are mainly shown off by various piano chords that are easily detected throughout the album. The ambience of the album is displayed by numerous keyboard dynamics that slowly build up as each song progresses.
Talk Talk use plenty of instruments on this album including organs, violins, flutes, sparkling guitars, and a heavy dose of bass and drums. There are no extended solo’s or quick paced riffs, Spirit of Eden
relies on a patient listener that is willing to sit threw a lot of ambient build up before a song actually comes together. When songs are going threw their climax there are beautiful textures of instruments creating a soothing and extremely laid-back feel. All that Spirit of Eden
wants you to do is kick back, close your eyes, and let the music sink in.
A melancholy violin starts things up and is quickly accompanied by a strange brass sounding instrument and a slight breezy sounding effect. If you kick back and close your eyes the song almost makes you feel like you’re sitting under the tree and staring at the same ocean that’s shown on the front cover. After another minute of ambience you start to hear some odd scratching noises and then some old fashion/western guitar chords come in and explode out of nowhere. A folky harmonica line is then played along with a thumping bass and drum beat. An extremely mellow and care free feel is now established and at three and a half minutes into the song Mark Hollis comes in and sings in his soft and hushed tone. The laid-back western guitar licks play throughout the song and Hollis continues to wail out undecipherable words in a soothing and relaxing voice. The song closes out with a zestful harmonica solo completely taking you by surprise and adding a lot of spice onto the music.
Some gloomy brass instruments are played along with a subtle yet deep bass line. Scratchy guitar bleeps make their way into the music almost unnoticeably, and similar to The Rainbow
goes threw just about one minute of ambience before slowly building up. The scratchy guitar sounds fade off in the background as a simple drum beat is played over a glimmering guitar line. Hollis eventually makes his way into the song and sings in a depressing and hopeful tone as the guitars vanish and there is just a drum beat. Both Hollis and the glimmering guitar switch on and off throughout the song and nothing really happens for a good three to four minutes. The climax of the song bursts out of nowhere and it consists of two noisy guitars clashing together to create a shiny, somewhat jarring sound. The song finally comes to a close with unraveling piano chords along with a slight drum line. All in all the song is filled with glistening guitars and sparkly sounds but it gets sort of boring and it doesn’t really go anywhere until the bombardment of clinging guitar sounds.
Talk Talk do something that they rarely do on Spirit of Eden
, and that is rock out. A mournful harmonica groove starts things up and then some aimless keyboard dynamics play creating a jazzy and relaxing feel. Piano chords quickly make their way into the music joined by some twangy guitar hooks and a hushed maraca jingle. Hollis makes his way into the song at two minutes muttering “desire” over ethereal dynamics and hushed guitar sounds. With Desire
Talk Talk basically abandoned their subtle addition of instruments throughout a song and a crowded and edgy chorus comes and gets you out of nowhere. The guitars hit you hard along with Hollis’s loud and boisterous tone. After a few minutes the song goes back to pure ambience and then builds back up into a loud and rocking chorus. Towards the end of the song silence comes in and all you can make out is a few jazzy piano scales. This is without a doubt the harshest and most spontaneous song off of Spirit of Eden
but it delivers a hard rocking chorus and while it isn’t very well written it’s still fun to listen to.
This is the shortest and most electronica influenced song off of the album. Jazzy piano arpeggios kick things off and a simple drum line comes in to accompany it. Shortly after this Hollis comes onto the scene and sings in a refined yet beautiful voice. If you put together the jazzy piano chords and Hollis’s soft tone the music becomes extremely gloomy yet jazzy at the same time. Towards the middle of the song a flute solo is played along with another brass sounding instrument that resembles the recorder. Keyboard dynamics now make their way into the mix and the piano chords magically reappear along with Hollis. The climax of the song is beautiful and although the instrumentation is quite simple this song is a mellow and brief gem. With about twenty seconds left in the song Hollis suddenly stops singing and an awkward silence takes place leading you into the next song.
I Believe in You
Unlike every other song on the album, things start off with a peppy drumbeat. Glistening guitars along with snazzy piano chords come into the mix and in result Talk Talk almost sound like an old jazz band. Some windy noises are played in the background and Hollis comes in singing in his familiar “depressed boy” voice. The atmosphere of the song quickly shifts from a jazzy feel to a mysteriously dark and gloomy feel. Towards the middle of the song Hollis shuts his mouth and a graceful array of windy/ocean like special effects come in. I Believe in You
takes you to a different place, a subtle drumbeat accompanies the ocean influenced effects and the song substitutes a climax for a beautiful array of glistening electronic effects. The song finally comes to a close with loud, spacey synths and this is the jazziest and most experimental song off of the album.
The album closes with the bleakest, and possibly the most ambient song off of the album. Oddly enough the music starts out with Hollis whispering lyrics into the microphone sounding depressed yet laid back. He fades in and out throughout the course of the song and meshes in extremely well with the rest of the music. This can be either a good or a bad thing but the song is propelled by a spiritual organ chord and some jazzy piano scales. Midway through the song some aimless electronic bleeps come in and this is the most interesting part of the music. Towards the end of the song the instruments tend to quiet down and Hollis closes things out with just him and the church influenced organ. Talk Talk go out in style and end Spirit of Eden
with forty-five seconds of good old silence. Overall I believe that this is an ideal closer for a relaxing and mildly depressing album. The simple sounding organ chords mixed in with Hollis’s soft and crooning voice creates a melancholy and ambient tone.
Talk Talk provide us with some gloomy, reflective, and beautiful music. There are at least ten guest instrumentalists that appear on the album and while up to six or seven instruments play at the same time they mesh together so smoothly that you won’t even notice. Spirit of Eden
is not exactly an essential post-rock album but if you’re into this type of music then you’ll without a doubt enjoy it.