4th in a series of posts in which I go through the finest albums of the 1980s. This time: Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden from 1988…
Spirit of Eden is a record so difficult to write about, that I almost didn’t include it. It’s one of those complete anomalies of rock music; an ambient, floating, psychedelic, incense-laden, baroque, at times overwhelmingly intense and other times borderline narcoleptic. It recalls the challenging prog-ambient epics of the 60s and 70s: Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or possibly even moments on The Grateful Dead’s Live/Dead album in its deep thoughts and mesmeric undertones.
”It was very, very psychedelic. We had candles and oil wheels, strobes going, sometimes just total darkness in the studio. You’d get totally disorientated, no daylight, no time frame.” says Phill Brown, the engineer of the album. It was recorded by chance, the music being made spur-of-the-moment, pure experimentation in reaction to the moody environment described by Jones.
This tells us that the numbingly beautiful atmospheric journey of Spirit of Eden is not simply manufactured just for the listener; the band is being taken along those unpredictable streams just as you are, and are just as hypnotised by their own music as you are. Whereas playing extended live jams can often produce a sense of being so completely involved in the music that you reach a sort of divine Buddhist-like unawareness, I can think of no studio albums of which this can be said other than Spirit of Eden. “There is no way that I could ever play again a lot of the stuff I played on this album because I just wouldn’t know how to” vocalist Mark Hollis said.
10 Rainbows out of 10
One of those true one-offs.
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