Also Eden: [REDACTED]

Revamped line-up impresses on the band’s fourth album.

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In a recent interview online, Also Eden’s lead guitarist Si Rogers was a bit chary in his use of the P word. It is an old conundrum of course, but he reckoned that, rather than being a prog band, they are more accurately described as a ‘rock group with progressive tendencies’. In their case, being progressive is less about breaking out the Mellotrons and more about asking, ‘What have we not done before?’.

You can see his reasoning. In Also Eden’s eight-year lifespan there have been 13 group members, with all the founders now gone bar Rogers, so they’ve been impelled to keep on developing their sound. There was more than a little Hackett and Banks in the lengthy guitar/keyboard solos of their earliest attempts, but that has given way to a more concise, but no less adventurous, song-oriented style.

Keyboardist Ian Hodson’s production skills were also important to the band’s sound. He left in the spring, and they drafted in producer/composer Andy Davies, with Howard Sinclair coming in on keys, and Graham Lane on bass. While [REDACTED] may therefore be, by definition, a transitional album, it is also a strong statement of intent.

Red River starts with a delicate weave of guitar arpeggios and keyboards, which are soon brushed aside by blocky, near-metal guitar chords, and these in turn are cut with agitated unison passages. After all this turbulence the opening section reappears in elongated form, but this time as a vehicle for Rich Harding’s hushed vocals.

Endless Silence is a prime example of the group’s questing spirit. It comprises a synthetic percussion loop, with piano and ambient keyboard drift, eerie exhalations and whispered ‘Let’s go!’ vocal refrain, all leavened by brief snatches of Rogers’ sweet lead guitar. Distortion Field sounds ostensibly more straightforward, but works on subtle shifts of metre with sinuous synth lines on the straight-ahead sections, and big choruses that carry a slight hint It Bites-style poppiness. They’re breaking new ground, but on Chronologic Rogers goes into a crunching bolero rhythm, evoking a certain section in The Knife by Genesis, and in doing so this tune harks back to an era when most self-respecting prog bands had at least one bolero interlude in their set.

The copy of the album sent to Prog for review came with copious studio notes and also earlier mixes, and all such painstaking work has paid off. [REDACTED] is a brilliant mix of foreground crunch and a deft layering of nuanced sonic detail which stretches back into the distance. It gives great depth to their sound, and full disclosure to their talent.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.