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Talk Talk

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5 stars Hauntingly perfect this was TALK TALK at their height of their creativity in my opinion. Many will be immediately shocked that this is perhaps on my prog review section, but please let me offer my rationale. Simply to hear this would answer all pundits, but as Kate BUSH once said her top 10 of all time would include TALK TALK's "Spirit Of Eden". Completely removed from the pop crowd hang-over and synth-driven work they were so well known worldwide for, TALK TALK reversed the tide with this release. This album contains no syth work, but instead relies totally on the organ and the piano. The "Spirit Of Eden" is very involved and delicate music which explores some pretty heavy aspects of life. At the time of recording, Hollis insisted on using only the original instruments in recording this very personal album. Acoustic guitar, double bass, mexican bass, trumpet, clarinet, bassoon, violin, oboe and the choir of Chelmsford Cathedral help create the most captivating musical landscape you have ever experienced. The study of this album would be the study of sound and Hollis and Co. make it of primary mission here to challenge the listener. This is not music destined for the radio and therefore makes the perfect birthday or Christmas gift. This is one of my personal all time fav's and should defintely adron your collection.
Report this review (#31120)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Sprirt of Eden" is simply stunning. This once-in-a-lifetime achievement is both ambient and hard-hitting, deeply textured but often deceptively simple, as modern as the most extreme avant-garde jazz and yet organic and classical like an 18th century pastoral or delta blues. A diverse array of musicians and instruments create amzing musical details throughout the album, from the first surge of strings and heart-rending harmonica solo on "The Rainbow" to the reverent and random organ fade-out of "Wealth". Hollis' voice has lost the unpleasant nasal honk that characterized earlier works, blending perfectly with the other instruments as he softly murmurs or testifies the sparse but emotionally drenched poetry of the lyrics. Silence is often used as a tangible instrument as well. There is a stark, haunting aura surrounding much of the work, but it transcends the merely 'dark' or 'moody' to effectively portray moments of extreme emotional import; an attitude of spiritual revelation, profound personal expression, and raw existential distress is the heaviness that the fragile structure of these songs bear. This album belongs to no specific genre, simultaneously creating and perfecting its own sonic signature; the album equally achieves distinction in prog-rock as it does in modern jazz, or avant-garde classical, or post-punk experimentation, or even new-age soundscapes. I would rate this as one of the top musical achievements of the 20th century- no kidding. It's definitely one of my favorite albums of all time, and one I believe everyone should have a chance to appreciate.
Report this review (#31121)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Spatial, radical, ambient, minimalist are four easy ways to describe this masterpiece from Mark Hollis and the Talk Talk outfit. The entire album is excellent although for me ' Raibow', ' Eden' and ' Desire' all continuous in presentation reveal the true genius behind this work from 1988. So Talk Talk embarked on a totally non commercial direction with Spirit Of Eden and immediately it yielded their best album IMO of their entire catalogue.
Report this review (#31122)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Like Colour of Spring, the only flaw in Spirit of Eden was its timing. Had TALK TALK put out this same music today, I think it might have had a greater chance of success. As it is, I must say that TALK TALK was a very brave band to go against the musical current of their time, ultimately at the cost of their contract, and then their career. This is true artistic integrity.

Spirit of Eden picks up where The Colour of Spring's "Chameleon Day" left off--in fact, "The Rainbow" could almost be "Chameleon Day, Part II". "April 5th" will also help prepare the listener for this album. This time dispensing with the final vestige of the popular 80s scene-- the programmed percussion--TALK TALK completes their break with the mainstream. As with Colour of Spring, the choice of title is again most appropriate. Unlike their contemporaries, this album is devoid of any synthesisers, giving it a very natural, warm feeling. Sometimes the music is almost mournful...a man reminiscing about the time before the Fall, it seems...but this is not a man who has forgotten beauty. I feel that HOLLIS has found a way to make both sadness and uplifting beauty coexist peacefully. Musically, I can't choose a best...they are all gorgeous, all the way from "The Rainbow" to "Wealth". Spirit of Eden does not need a "beat" in order to be has soul, and that is enough.

This album favors the more vulnerable aspect of MARK HOLLIS--both his lyrics and his vocals are soulful to say the least. In "I Believe In You", HOLLIS describes someone's struggle with heroin addiction. In a magazine interview he said once that he had seen how this horrible drug had devastated so many rock stars and others. It's clear to me that his heart aches for them, and he does such an impressive job of putting himself into the shoes of these suffering souls that it's very easy to make the mistake of believing that it came from personal experience. But the fact that such a mistake could be made is quite a testament to the spirit of serene bravery he's captured here.

Moving...that is Spirit of Eden encapsulated in a single word.

Report this review (#31125)
Posted Sunday, December 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like the other reviewers have suggested this is a simply stunning album by a band who were cast aside by the vagaries of record company 'wisdom'. Haunted, haunting and beautiful in an often fragile way, this is music in peril. The arrangements of largely acoustic instruments are often in danger of falling apart. But like fine lace the fragility embodies a crystalline vision, intricate skill and artistic transparency. It has been said that great music is not about what you put in but what's left out and the spaces here are sublime as the band teeters on the brink of loose jazz, vague prog leaning, pre-post-rock, art-school meandering. It's all a seamless whole, however and best rewards by letting the whole thing just wash over you in one sitting. If you like it, it's also worth checking out Mark Hollis' only solo album, which too is a remarkable record, and also bass player Paul Webb's collaboration with Beth Gibbons of Portishead. That album - 'Out of Season' by Beth Gibbons and Rustin' Man - is something akin to Talk Talk in that it largely relies on acoustic instruments, though it blends in elements of the British folk revival of the late 60s, such as Bert Jansch and particularly Nick Drake as well as some restrained nods to soul, jazz and Barry-esque soundtracks. Another great album.
Report this review (#31126)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are two types of meditative music. The first stays on the surface and provides only a mere reflection of shallow puddles with no depth. The second one goes deeper although you see just the surface. You can sense the magic secret world deep under it. And this is the case of this album. I very much like all the achievements of Talk Talk. Either pop songs of early period or the later submersions to miraculous waters. They need not be virtuosos to reach these deep waters. They simply play by hearts and you hear it. I think that a decade before them there was one group named Pink Floyd who tried to cruise these seas but often lost their ways. I as well think that Talk Talk in this album did not loose their way. They even discovered the peaceful wonderland hidden in the ocean. You can see it. Only what you have to do is LISTEN LISTEN.
Report this review (#31127)
Posted Friday, March 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5 Stars - definitely. - This album has atmosphere like no other I know. It's like a dream lingering through wasted lands and jungles. But it's a journey in your mind. The sound is so clean, so sober that it affects me like a chirurgian knife ripping into the flesh, cut by cut. - If you listen to that kind of music be careful. It could harm you if in a strange mood. I can handle that music better than at the very beginning. It is a bit like watching a funeral - very sad and catching at the time. A superbe example of contemporary music. -
Report this review (#31128)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The terms 'minimal' and 'understated' describe this music well. I can either listen to it intently or have it playing in the background; in both cases it evokes in me a slightly gloomy feeling. The silence between notes is sometimes deafening. The beat is often slow - sometimes very slow - and the music often subdued, although there are crescendos here and there. A wide range of instruments, classical and modern, are put to good use (Is that Nigel "Four Seasons" Kennedy credited on violin, by any chance?), although sometimes they sound cluttered. Chelmsford Cathedral choir is even used on 'I Believe In You'. Hollis' singing is indistinct but his voice is full of pathos and his singing forms a very important element of the music. The electric guitar on 'The Rainbow', my favourite track on the album, is just beautiful (actually, so is Hollis' singing on that track, and indeed some of the melodic phrases). The parts with ponderous piano or other instrument playing quietly while Hollis warbles quietly are probably what please me most throughout the album.

The other tracks don't excite me as much as the first (well, the first two, possibly). They're all very atmospheric, and decent enough, but I don't find them particularly memorable and they don't satisfy the expectation raised in me by the first track. In fact, I find some of the music grates slightly (the busy parts of 'Desire', for example, and Hollis' voice on 'Inheritance', which I feel at times is just a little too whiny).

By the time the album reaches 'I believe In You' and 'Wealth' it just seems to be more of the same to me, and I start to feel I've had my fill, although I find the quieter singing over organ and piano on 'Wealth' pleasing again.

The cover artwork is arty but stylish and pleasing. The lyrics in the CD booklet are printed in tiny handwriting that I find very difficult to decipher. Why on Earth do record companies do things like this?

I have to be honest and say that I probably wouldn't replace this album if my copy were to go astray. Overall I find the music good - the first track, gorgeous - but, to me, the album is not a masterpiece. I'm not entirely convinced that it would make an "excellent addition to any progressive music collection" (4 stars) either, so I'm settling for 3 stars (Good, but not essential). However, judging by the seven reviews preceding mine, I'm out on a limb.

Report this review (#31130)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you only buy one CD this year, make it this one. Then next year get Laughing Stock. This is prog in the literal sense, ie. not copying twiddly noises from the 70's. This is so different, there is no-one to compare it to, but I get a similar vibe with Nick Drake though this is nothing like him either, I guess it's a spiritual thing that very few artists will ever get close to. Do your mind a favour, give this a try. Five stars? is that all we can have? No way...this is worthy of 55 stars.
Report this review (#45161)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In this album, all the pop influences are gone. Again a lot of guest musicians have been used to carve magnificent songs, mixing rock and ambient music in a very smooth way. The songs are much longer, and the prog lovers will have matter to be satisfied.

The album starts with a trilogy of songs: "The Rainbow", "Eden" and "Desire". These three songs are built in a similar way - very long songs (7-8 minutes) with a quiet fade-in intro, heavier rock music when the vocals kick in and quiet interludes/outro with minimalist instruments. Starting with "Inheritance", the last three songs are much softer, but if "I Believe In You" is a gorgeous song (very deep lyrics/vocals on this song), the other two are repetitive and a bit boring.

Rating: 82/100 (excellent)

Report this review (#76276)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars To be honest, I was about to write some cold, barren sentences about how perfect this album is for the after-party mornings, about the instrumentation and the sorrow of its forerunner, about..., and then I realised: in fact, this is one of the very few masterpieces I cannot say anything about. Listening to this album is such a deep experience I can only live it, the words are redundant.
Report this review (#81747)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was surprised to see Talk Talk listed on the site. Certainly their earlier synth-pop phase has no place here, but this album is absolutely one of my desert island discs. I can listen to this no matter what my mood or where I am. It's haunting, uplifting, superbly crafted. I don't care if it's prog or not. This is great, inventive music by any standards. For me "I Believe in You" is the crowning glory (so much so that I nearly had it as music for my wedding earlier this year but I didn't want it to be cut short- every second needs to be heard).

Whatever genre of music this albumgot classed as it'd get 5 stars from me. So, if it's prog enough to be on prog archives then 5 stars it is.

Report this review (#96087)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It would be easy to dismiss this record as extremely tentative, sluggish and boring, if you didn't give it your full attetion. It's like there is not a note out of place, and I was amazed at how many instruments were used in this recording including trumpet, clarinet, violin, harmonica, aboe, bassoon , harmonium and many more. This is a complex, detailed and intricate record that seems to defy TALK TALK's earlier pop music.

Witness the guitar work in the opener "The Rainbow" at 2 minutes in that seems to be the first real signs of life in this song. Or the melody of piano, percussion and vocals that comes and goes in "Eden", and is contrasted with the fuller sound that includes guitar. Or the atmosphere that is broken in "Desire". The haunting lyrics in "Inheritance", that say "Heaven Bless You In Your Calm" throughout. Or the ambience of "I Believe In You". And lastly the organ and words in "Wealth", words that say "Take my freedom for giving me a sacred love".

This is the kind of album that requires patience, and the reward for that effort is well worth it.

Report this review (#101978)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hits right at home.

This album has a distinct quality to it that I can only describe as having a "homey" feel. It feels rugged and artistically subdued, yet extremely powerful. The slow, trodding pace throughout much of the album is brilliantly crafted to create many beautiful soundscapes and moods.

This album feels highly genuine and evokes emotions that many other albums fail to ever come close to capturing. The vocals fit perfectly, almost feeling as your own voice guiding the music and guiding the experience. The harmonica and other various instruments give the album a folksy feel to it, but there's also a great deal of minimalism and free rolling jazz to make this an extremely pleasant experience. The album has the feel of a nice rocking chair, comfortable and smooth, luscious even, and right at home.

I will say that I prefer the first several tracks over the latter, but the whole album is very captivating and somewhat intoxicating in feel. Had the latter tracks been as captivating and mesmerizing as The Rainbow or Desire, one might see this album even more praised than the exquisite beauty we already see it as.

Report this review (#103278)
Posted Friday, December 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't think that anyone who listened to Talk Talk's mediocre synth-pop albums of the early '80s could have predicted their complete evolution into the band who released the masterpiece that is Spirit of Eden. Mark Hollis, the prime creative force behind the band, draws more from Erik Satie, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Miles Davis, and german kraut rock band Can than from any of their contemporaries at the time.

Spirit of Eden is undeniably progressive in the literal sense. Perhaps the main reason for the mode of composition used for this album, which was pretty much unheard of at the time of its release. Talk Talk, using their record label's large budget and the funds they drew from their other records over the years, hired a dozen and a half sessions musicians utilizing various instruments and had them improvise to various pre-formed song structures. As a side, since few bands these days have the budget to produce an album of this magnitude, and since those that do doubtfully had the artistic motivations that Talk Talk possessed at this point, I doubt we'll be seeing another album like Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock in some time. At this point, Hollis and producer/unofficial band member Tim Friese-Greene took the improvisations and mixed and matched them to their final positions on the disc. With this in mind, I find it pretty fun to listen to this disc and attempt to pay attention to only the raw skeletons of the songs rather than the copious improvisations inserted all over the disc.

It's difficult to describe the music on this album. As I stated in the previous paragraph, I don't think anything similar to this existed prior to the album's release, nor do I know of anything similar that exists after. The music, as I stated before, is based on minimalistic song structures with improvisational segments from various instruments tastefully placed whererever the music is sparse. The music is "organic," as Hollis describes it, featuring predominantly acoustic instrumentation with an emphasis on ... earthliness ... if that makes any sense. I would also describe it as deeply meditative and introspective music. The album relies heavily on dissonance for its effect, and indeed it seems as though improvisation parts are chosen simply for their dissonant effects.

It would be pointless to describe the individual function of each instrument on this record as there are so many, but the predominant ones are definitely piano, drums, and Hollis' voice. Yes, Hollis voice functions much more as an instrument on this album than as a conveyor of lyrics. While the lyrics themselves are by no means anything to be shunned, Hollis tends not to enunciate fully, and I would be extremely surprised if anyone is able to understand more than half the words on this album from the music alone. Hollis' voice and keyboard melodies are for the most part unimprovisational and provide for most of the predetermined song structure, while drums are used for keeping the beat and giving the album an all-in-all cohesive feel. Drumming here is not to prove virtuosity: to do so would be like tearing the ocean out from under a boat. The simplistic and often unchanging drumming provides a foundation for rest of the music. That's about all it does, but it works well enough.

The first three tracks form a three-part suite, each track flowing into the next. From the getgo, it seems like "The Rainbow" is going to be essentially formless, but as electric guitar chimes in, this feeling is shattered as a rhythm begins to manifest itself. Enter drums, and the rest of the suite takes off from there. The song continues, oscillating back and forth between pre-formed sections of music and periods of improvisation. The next two tracks, "Eden" and "Desire," seem a bit more structured. "Eden" features an extremely climactic chorus and some of the best lyrics on the album. "Desire," on the other hand, features a very cool organ part and one of the only parts of the album that could legitimately be classified as heavy.

In contrast to some of the other reviewers here, I think the second half of this album is as good if not beter than the first. The latter half seems a bit more ... sparse than the former. "Inheritance" has some of the most heart-breaking vocals I've ever heard uttered. "I Believe in You" is probably the most restrained and beautiful song on the record, which is probably why it was chosen as a single. "Wealth," the last song, is minimal almost to the point of ambience. Perhaps because of the barren structure of this song, it has probably the most emphasis on improvisation on the album. The album closes with a prolonged, droning organ dissonance that drifts the listener off to sleep.

I believe Spirit of Eden to not only be a superlative album but one of the crowning achievements of the latter half of the 20th century. It achieves this greatness not only in its inherent quality but also in its influence on later works: Spirit of Eden influenced many of today's post-rock bands. I also hear some Talk Talk influence in Radiohead's later works, among others.

This album is a masterpiece. Put on the disc, whip on some headphones, and listen to it as you drift off to sleep. Recommended to any lover of experimental music.

Report this review (#113531)
Posted Monday, February 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Artistic revolution = cultural statement = commercial suicide. Why has it always be this way?..


It begins with 2-min intro of background strings and desolate winds' sound (clarinet? oboe? cor Anglias? whatever). Those who are familiar with David Lynch movies will recognize that atmosphere as their most preferable; neither as dark as usual Badalamenti's dramatic piano themes nor as jolly as Lynch's rock'n'roll-related stuff. Then through half-noticeable noises guitar creeps in, lonely like last chords of Neil Young dying somewhere in the desert. Steel harmonica follows and make this picture even more vivd and true-to-life. Lazy groove of verse changes into ethereal chorus and dark minimalistic piano touches that complete the picture. Can you imagine this? Three different moods in less than one minute. Fantastic. And this is how "THE RAINBOW" goes further, with unleashed, wild and hot harmonica solo in the middle, so sudden and so predictable in the same time. Then all becomes too mellow to be heard - we're in Eden.


Light and spacy, loose and free, and then with fuzzy Hammond organ and overdriven guitar in chorus, where Mark cries sacred words of love and peace. More than a song - a testament, filled with half-noticeable background sounds, which are supposed to be orchestra or choir or whatever...There's a rumour that orchestra were improvising for 3 hours, and the only moment was laid on tape finally - where violin player played the wrong note :) Climax here is stretched, it lasts for 2 minutes or so, and when distorted guitar sound fades away, the beat of Eden still can be heard.


There's a massive latent sexual power in this song. I just imagine Jimmy Morrison or Robert Plant performing "DESIRE", and stadiums are on, wait, there's also a great deal of intimacy. This wicked subtle riff, upright bass and winds appearing from nowhere, heavenly mild Hammond organ...and then goes the blow of immense power preceded by a screaming guitar sound - the chorus, so overwhelming and so magnificient. The closer the end the crazier this song becomes - these drums, listen to these drums, beating in a doomsday bell, and crying overdriven guitar, and harmonica has gone totally mad...insanity of desire indeed, it has never been better before and never will be.


Piano and organ drop chords with hat counting out time, Mark chants "heaven bless you in your calm" - some beautiful moments can be found there, especially in chorus, where whirling background creates truly "out-there" feeling, and between verses, where winds play something...something that can be heard on Hollis' solo in a more experimental way. Good Lord, this album made me love these winds!


The sister-track to "EDEN", even more subtle, gentle, flowing through few Hammond organ chords and simple drum beat, with thousands of invisible overdubs on the background, this song has the most ambient feel to it, with ethereal Hollis vocals and these weird sound collages, half-noticeable (this is the third time I use this construction!) and almost haunting. Listen to angelic voices calling to you - yes, you're still in Eden. Second best track along with "DESIRE" here, no contest.


The most minimalistic song here. Organ, piano, some acoustics here and there and the final words from Mark - "Take my freedom for giving me sacred love". Simple yet genius. Minimalistic yet Prog. Is this what you expected?

No smart words, no conclusions, no recommendations. If you want to find Eden without leaving the Earth, just turn this CD on. Simply one of the best albums ever made by human beings.

Report this review (#151382)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Was Eden this gloomy?

Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden is the band's most highly praised album in the progressive community and the beginning of their end in the synth-pop world, which unfortunately, meant their demise. The album certainly is a far cry from the pop music that the band started with, however, not having heard very much of that it's difficult (personally) to compare. This album is a heavy mix of ambient, almost post-rock music with a heavy-hearted voice and a variety of instruments. This works both for and against the album as it moves along, feeling at points very strong and at other points very seemingly random as the album slowly trudges along.

This is definitely not an album for those who like the rock in their prog rock. The slow, meandering songs will likely bore people who love something upbeat and uptempo like Yes or any of their contemporaries. Starting with the slow moving The Rainbow, the album begins. Some slow guitar work which one would expect to explode into full motion... but never does. Eden follows on as more of the same and kind of an extension to the first song. Desire picks up a little bit when the singer finally decides to do some shouting, but it comes off as rather random, as this is the first time the music ever really picks up in pace or volume. It's a welcome change, however, and this will be done a couple more times on the second side.

By the time we reach Inheritance the album as truly taken on the ''more of the same'' feel. The ambient music takes over and melodies become hard to discern if you're not paying so much attention that a vein could pop out of your head. Nearing the end, Wealth brings the album to an appropriate close with some more slow ambient music.

Really, this album is more about the mood than it is about anything else. That's how it seems to come off anyway. In a kind of gloomy yet almost victorious kind of way this is the kind of music that can make your eyes droop into a comatose stare while contemplating the mysteries of the universe while still managing to bring forth a single tear in light of the beauty of everything. This is pretty music, music which is intricately crafted around long held chords which evokes mood rather than a tapping toe. While this may be very appealing to some, it's very clear that this kind of music is very threatening to others. The music itself is not bad at all - it is taken very seriously and played with an incredible amount of caution as though the musicians had guns to their heads to make sure everything was totally clean. The musicianship and music here are very good... but that doesn't keep it from becoming boring at points.

Not for everyone, this is an album who requires a very certain listener. People who love slow, moody music will get a kick and a half out of this while others may simply find the album a chore to sit through. Therefore, this album gets 2 stars. Fans of this kind of music as well as people who like post-rock should enjoy it.

Report this review (#165978)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This is when the talking stops.. .

If "Colours of spring" offered a tantalising glimpse of the way Talk Talk would metamorphose from a pop band to a prog band, "Spirit of Eden" is the album which captures the completion of that transition. As with the previous album, Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene are joined by a grand collection of artists, this time including a number of classical musicians and a choir.

There are just six tracks here, a firm indication of the way the songs are structured and executed. The first track "The rainbow" starts in barely perceptible fashion, with soft ambient sounds. These lead to a (relative) burst of vocals from Mark Hollis. It quickly becomes apparent that the synth driven pop sounds which were starting to be kept in check on "Colours of spring" have now been eradicated. Instead Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene rely on organ, piano and guitar for the main instrumentation. Other colours are added by the impressive array of supporting musicians, including a harmonica solo by Mark Feltham, but the atmosphere is predominantly one of understatement.

The first three tracks actually blend together to form a 22+ minute suite, "The rainbow", "Eden" and "Desire" all having the same pace and atmosphere. Hollis intersperses occasional vocals with considered instrumental phases and slow but defined rhythms. Occasionally things will suddenly get louder (a style Porcupine Tree would later develop), but such excursions are notable as the exceptions.

"Inheritance" is slightly more upbeat, but only in relative terms, the song remaining essentially melancholy. With a reversal of song title from the previous album, "I believe in you" is the most accessible song here. The wonderful organ sounds and melodic drifts from the choir combine with Hollis vocals to form an enchanting piece. The album closes with "Wealth", a song which brings us full circle back to the minimalist mood of the start.

For me Talk Talk peaked with "The colour of spring". While this is one of the most atmospheric albums I have come across, I find myself occasionally frustrated by just how understated it is. That said, it would be churlish to overlook crediting Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene with having the courage to take the band away from the lure of commercialism and into decidedly non-commercial areas. This is still a fine album by any standards, and one which will particularly appeal to many prog fans.

Report this review (#168671)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Very few times in the history of rock music did a band changed their style so dramatically.

What's available here has nothing to do with their synth pop of the early early/middle eighties. The project is more ambitious. More "serious". It features lots of ambient parts, even experimental ones.

The keyboards are of course dominant (but this was also a feature in their early life), but it is combined with a myriad of instruments (mostly wind ones) which add some variety in here.

But still, the music is veeeeeeeeeery tranquil ("The Rainbow", "Inheritance", "Wealth") and it is difficult to stay concentrate all the way through. A perfect record to calm down after an exhausting working day or a serious argument with your wife.

My fave is the melodic "Eden". Hollis is highly expressive and emotional and the musical background flirts between very discrete to sumptuous and powerful. But the global feeling is too much "new age" oriented even if, at times, the listener is woken up with an upbeat tempo (twice during "Desire" which is otherwise a dull number).

I only like this album moderately. It is too much of same ambient atmosphere and I have the impression that Hollis is afraid to sing with all his potential as if it would break this feeling. It is like if he was holding his voice. Quite annoying.

Some fine melodies, sweet keys breaks and fine sax like during "I Believe In You" are also a highlight. Delicate and touching. But not for an every day listening.

Definitely the band's most original album. But far from being a masterpiece IMO.

Report this review (#170807)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sprit of Eden is the fourth studio album from experimental rock band Talk Talk. Talk Talk started their career being a synth pop band on their first two albums The Party´s Over and It´s My Life but shifted towards a more experiental yet still commercial pop/ rock style on their third album The Colour of Spring. With this their fourth album the transformation from commercial pop/ rock band into an experimental and sometimes avant garde rock band is complete. Talk Talk had enjoyed considerable success with The Colour of Spring and the financial freedom that followed with good record sales ment that Mark Hollis and Co. made an album that many consider to be a commercial suicide. The record label was probably furious but for us prog heads it´s such a great move.

The music is as mentioned experimental rock with great emphasis on dynamics. Main composer Mark Hollis said in an interview I saw on television a few years back that he emphasised silence as much as sound in music. Sometimes the unsaid is more powerful than the spoken word. The music is a times very subtle and the volume is very low while at other times we´re assaulted with a full on attack of noisy guitar and Mark Hollis singing more powerfully than his usual subtle approach. If you look at the session musicians playing on the album you´ll see that there are used many different instruments on this recording. Intruments like Trumpet, Harmonica, violin, Shozgs ( Whatever that is?), basoon, oboe and clarinet in addition to the more ordinary instruments played by the band like guitar, bass, drums, piano, organ, Harmonium and percussion. That load of different sounds makes Spirit of Eden a very special experience.

The musicianship is astonishing to say the least. Mark Hollis fragile and subtle vocal approach that suddenly turns into a loud, expressive and emotional performance has to be mentioned. But everyone are at the top of their game here.

The production is extremely well done by Tim Friese-Greene. A very organic sound that it warm and full.

This is not an album I embraced on initial listen. It´s taken me a couple of years to really appreciate but patience was rewarded in this case. I think a big 4 star rating for this original album is well deserved. If you want to hear something very different Spirit of Eden should please you. I forgot to mention that the mood on the album is extremely melancholic, so don´t expect happy tunes here.

Report this review (#181046)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Alongside Talk Talk's other post-rock work, Laughing Stock, Spirit of Eden is perhaps one of the most unique--not to mention otherworldly--pieces of music of the last 50 years. Though it has gone (generally) unnoticed by the record-buying public at large, it still remains a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece. I've only had the pleasure of enjoying this album for 6 months or so--I've owned Laughing Stock for a little over a year--and it was only after 5 or more listens that I was finally able to appreciate Spirit of Eden for what it is. As with most musical masterpieces there are almost no dull moments here (with the exception of the last 2 or 3 minutes of Wealth) and even the silence in between tracks adds to the quiet power of this album. I must truly say that these six songs capture the spirit of Eden in a way no other album has done before or since.
Report this review (#200594)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars This is were Talk Talk's transition from commercial music was finally complete and the results here are just staggering!

Although the band had already shown some traces of gorgeous songwriting on The Colour Of Spring they were completely overshadowed by the commercially successful material and so the first seeds of the transition went completely unnoticed by the band's label who pretty much expected the lads to record another hit album. This was not what Talk Talk had in mind and after more than a year of recording they presented the new material to the completely shocked label who didn't really know how to market such an album.

Spirit Of Eden features a distinct mix of rock, jazz, classical, and even some wonderful ambient music. There is nothing better than listening to this album on a rainy Sunday afternoon since it really sets a great mood for the day and after that you're free to go about your day feeling refreshed and ready for the next working week.

The three part composition The Rainbow/Eden/Desire is a definite highlight although I personally prefer a little track called Inheritance, it's just too beautiful to put into words. Spirit Of Eden took me originally a while to digest but two years and 30+ spins later, I consider it to be one of my top 50 favorite albums and a must have in any Art-Rock collection!

***** star songs: The Rainbow (9:09) Desire (6:57) Inheritance (5:23)

**** star songs: Eden (6:34) I Believe In You (6:10) Wealth (6:43)

Total rating: 4,53

Report this review (#254402)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars Like the flawless strokes of a master painter's brush, Talk Talk creates here a vivid tapestry of soulful beauty and elegance. Ceaselessly artistic and emotional, Spirit of Eden is more poignant than nearly anything else I've heard, and its blend of sounds and mood transcends classification or simple description-- they are an experience which everyone interested in life, love, and music should take.

The album opens hauntingly, with a mellow tone and tempo punctuated by the moody wail of a smokey harmoica. As the first real exposure to Spirit's unique instrumentation (not counting the trumpet tones at the track's start), this harmoica positively cuts to the soul, and sets the stage for the rich pallette of sounds to follow throughout. "Rainbow" rises and falls, with the harmoica building a powerful tension with the dense tones of strings and keyboards providing an etheric release.

This transitions into the beautiful "Eden", with an uplifting repetition of guitar to a strong vocal builds set against vast layers of background effects and textures. "Desire" changes to a purposeful groove, with a big noisy chorus which higlights Hollis' emotive singing. His phrasing, poetic lyrics, and inflection are incredible.

The album continues in a similar style: vulnerable, fragile, affirming, and powerful. The nuance of the vast instrumentation is a never-ending joy to discover, and the creativity shown in the production-- from the dense overlays to distortion and effects (highlighted by the distorted choir in "I Believe in You"). I described this album to a friend as "Sigor Ros meets Radio Head", which I think is pretty accurate, though Talk Talk avoids the repetitive compositions of popular post-rock and the blandness of some of Thom York's vocals.

I count Spirit of Eden as one of my best musical discoveries. It's a subtle and beautiful gem in my collection, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking something mellow and artistic. Give yourself the gift of discovering this wonderful album!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#280151)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Talk Talk was for me one of the very few bands in the eighties who succeeded in producing acceptable, if not very good music that blended perfectly in that era of poppy electronics and synthesizers. Their first three albums are still very listenable, albeit that many prog fans fuind them too poppy. The ratings for these albums are not too good on this site while 'The spirit of Eden' gets a very high score. And I really don't know why.

I have been trying to listen to 'Spirit of Eden' a couple of times, simply because I used to like Talk Talk. But the total absence of melody, of inspired musical ideas, of attractive hooks or solos makes this album awful. I really can't find anything attractive in it. It's quite simply a long experimental jam that for me should not have been recorded at all, let alone been put on cd. But o.k., my opinion is clearly not what most prog lovers think. Yet I find it important to rate this album with 1 star.

Report this review (#280163)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Talk Talk's preceding album The Colour Of Spring marked the introduction of more experimental songwriting and arrangements. These leanings are further investigated here, an evolution that came at the expense of accessibility, catchiness and popularity.

The music is very delicate and fragile, with an elusive flair that words can't do it justice to. Talk Talk is backed up by a long list of session musicians but the music sure doesn't sound full or bombastic, quite the contrary. The Rainbow and Eden are introvert ballads with very bare and almost abstract arrangements that don't focus on melody but more on slowly rising and fading sound modulations. Desire takes in livelier percussion and offers a well-timed increase in intensity, allowing the listener to avoid being overpowered by the persistent melancholy mood.

The remainder of the album returns to the ambient sounds of the opening tracks, turning the album into a tough listen that I can appreciate for its creative and innovative qualities but that has never really engaged me. A significant indication of how distanced I generally feel towards post-rock. It's too subdued and meandering to appeal to my energy-need, it hasn't got the capricious song structures I like in Prog, it's not as musical as fusion and it's not thick enough in atmosphere to match the darkness I love in progressive electronic music for instance.

Spirit of Eden is the point where Talk Talk fully absorbed their influences from jazz and ambient music to create something very original that would turn out to be very inspiring for future music generation. Every post-rock band owes a lot to this album. An excellent album that I have yet to embrace fully. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#285848)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars The thing with the latter Talk Talk albums and Mark Hollis solo album is that they lack the quintessential element of good music: melody. There is no melody in here, this is just a long and boring jam.

The funny thing is that their early stuff is really great. Yes, the pop stuff had textures and different layers of sound, not to mention the very good lyrics. But then something happened and they completely changed direction towards a big void. and the label people start using to define what they were doing: post-rock. I will not enter in the discussion of the existence of a genre like that, but if this is the way, so I prefer to rate this kind of "music" as post-melody.

Ambient music, meditation music, spiritual music? No, just plain uninspired and boring.

Report this review (#329703)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A jewel out of the 80 standards

Talk Talk is one of the names that I found here in PA, and I really had a curiosity about this band after seeing they had some commercial success in 80 years. However, "commercial" is not quite the right word for their fourth album, "Spirit of Eden".

This is an album completely different from anything that was released in 80 years. Should really take the title of "best progressive album of the decade", because you will not something simple, commercial, mainstream or easier to digest. This is a complex and experimental album - so it's not for everyone.

But it is for me. I really fell in love with this album, but I needed to be sure of my feelings for him. Yes, the album is not good as a whole - the seconds of silence are unnecessary, and the b-side is not as good as the a-side . But anyway it is a beautiful work of art and complex, which deserves to be appreciated - they were really ahead of its time, and it cost a contract with his label and its commercial success. But wow, it really worth it .

Overall the album's sound is quiet, relaxed and minimalist - the proof is the battery that barely appears, marked by discretion. There are a variety of acoustic instruments that create a climate for the symphonic album. The band often worked in the dark, creating jams and improvised themes, and then unite them and turn them into songs. So when you hear this album is very peaceful listening jams - the only exception being "Desire," which alternates between calm and somewhat aggressive on the chorus, however, this is the time where the battery stands out.


The first three songs are independent and yet connected. I say this because while the American edition of the album they are separate issues in Europe they came together as a single track, turning into an epic 23 minutes which probably should have been the longest track of the decade. But not only explains what I said. Although each track begins where the other end, setting up a bonding effect, the three are very different - unlike other epics subdivided into songs (like "Fly From Here" the Yes or "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" Dream Theater), there are moments or themes repeated in these three songs. Nevertheless, I love all three and they are my favorites on the album, especially "The raimbow" - I love the piano line that follows the chorus.

And then comes the b-side. The three songs that are presented to us here are slightly weaker than the previous ones, but they are good. In a way, I believe they build a kind of anti- climax for the album, leaving a strange feeling after all that was heard.

5 stars: The Raimbow, Eden, Desire

4 star: Inheritance, I Believe in You, Wealth

Average: 4.50

5 stars. A moody masterpiece, and I encourage everyone to listen to it.

Report this review (#506499)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spirit Of Eden was Talk Talk's most ambitious album. A collection of timeless music made all the more memorable by Mark Hollis' frail and delicate musings on life, love and the heartbreak of heroin. The six tracks on the album are all gorgeous freeform songs with passionately played harmonica and carefully orchestrated horns and strings. This is very mellow, slow and atmospheric, full of love and passion held together by the thrill of hearing a band performing at its creative peak.

This is an essential album, the first of its kind, marking the beginning of the post-rock genre. Many listeners find its ambience perfect for relaxation. Headphones, lights out - the story begins. It can mean different things to different people, so discovering it for oneself is the real gift of Spirit Of Eden.

It's interesting how after the band's previous success, EMI shelled up big bucks for this, the follow-up. Little did the executives know, the boys wouldn't produce even one radio friendly single and it became impossible to market to a mass audience. It apparently took 14 months to make at great expense and upon release sunk like a stone in the charts. EMI would later sue the band.

Rumour has it that Hollis and Friese-Greene brought in a full symphony orchestra for a couple of weeks of sessions and then decided to use only a couple of notes from a tuba or something like that in each song. As I said, this was an absolutely breathtaking feat of creativity for the band. Very influential indeed. 5 solid stars.

Report this review (#512138)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Talk Talk's previous Colour of Spring album hid amidst its gorgeous baroque pop hints of an interest in a more jazzy direction, but even taking this into account Spirit of Eden is truly unprecedented. Blending classical music, jazz, rock, soul, and countless other influences into a heady mixture - usually calming, but occasionally, as on Desire, bursting out with feverish energy - it created an entirely unique sonic landscape which has rarely been matched even to this day, in which the distinction between improvisation and composition is blurred entirely. When I first heard people talking about this album as being the very first post-rock release, I thought they must have been exaggerating. If anything, it's an understatement: many post-rock artists only attempt to cover a fraction of the ground explored here.
Report this review (#591408)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Martin Ditchman scrapes a bowl and Talk Talk emerge through the passageways of a complex evolution. From pop to top grade prog rock. They spent a year making this. It sounds like concentrated genius and a protracted sequence of mistakes and retakes in equal measure. Tension and release. There aren't many moments like Mark Feltham's harmonica solo. And Mark's voice? Not quite there to deliver a lyric, let alone a message. More a shimmering, frail instrument drawing us along as the strange journey unfolds. And the mighty Tim Friese-Green, producer, musician, just as much a member of Talk Talk as Eno is of U2. Perhaps more so. Eno merges as one of several, Friese-Green was one of two that sit at the heart of this influential masterpiece.

If you listen to this and you don't get it, google bands and musos who hold Talk Talk, and this album in particular, as an important influence. Then listen again.

Report this review (#660544)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars While mostly easygoing and pleasant, this album sits almost on the verge of tedium, even if it mostly flows from one piece to the next. Mark Hollis mumbles the lines in a manic-depressive manner. The first two songs are rather enjoyable, and "Inheritance" is good, but mostly the album plods along in a way that is, for me at least, unappealing. Fans of Kayo Dot or other Toby Driver projects may want to hear moments of this, however.

"The Rainbow" Wailing trumpet and background noises create a moody ambiance. A tight guitar bit enters, like Tex-Mex Telecaster grinding through as an anguished harmonic pierces and warbles through. The vocals are casual. A piano interlude brings the main riff back in with additional lead instruments, like fiddle.

"Eden" Various instruments burst in before the rhythm section begins to add structure. After a raucous guitar, a subdued percussion, bass, piano, and vocal section carries on. The song builds strongly despite the grating guitar, which almost ruins a decent piece of music.

"Desire" High-pitched wind instruments lead into this next tune, dirge-like and solemn with the bass-laden organ dominating. It leads into a simple, repetitive rhythm before the vocalist enters. And then abruptly, the band actually becomes a rock group, if only for a while.

"Inheritance" This tranquil jazz piece is awash with piano, brushes, and upright bass. At halftime, the blowers apparently improvise, performing over basic drumming.

"I Believe in You" Electric guitar textures ease in and out over piano and drums as the vocalist mumbles and moans something. Celestial organ and choir lead into more avant-garde business.

"Wealth" This amiable piece has organ layers, bass, and an emotional, yet scarcely understandable vocal performance. The organ is the highlight here, plopping in and out in the middle.

Report this review (#676549)
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Apparently I'm not the only Proghead somewhat blindsided by the inclusion of Talk Talk in these archives. Once upon a time I briefly owned a vinyl copy of their 1982 debut album "The Party's Over", but I dismissed the band long ago as a bunch of post-ROXY MUSIC New Romantic techno-poseurs with more fashion sense than genuine musical style.

That was before the group decided to bite the hand that was feeding them by completely recalibrating their aesthetic compass, in willful defiance of marketplace wisdom and against the better judgment of the bean-counters at EMI Records. Their 1986 album "The Colour of Spring" hinted at the changes ahead, but "Spirit of Eden" was the first, full blossoming of that new musical seed, and the choice of title was appropriate: this was as close to paradise as popular music could get in 1988.

Until my own recent, belated exposure to the album (thanks in large part to its high score on these pages) I always thought DAVID SYLVIAN had patented the formula for this sort of dreamlike ambient pop music. But he obviously wasn't the only artist drawing inspiration from the same deep well in an otherwise shallow musical decade, paving the way for other forward-thinking bands looking to jump off the gravy train (see RADIOHEAD for a more recent example).

The music itself is hard to pin down. The entire album drifts, pulses, dissolves, and flows together without any familiar sense of resolution or structure, interrupted by sporadic, semi-conscious brush strokes of guitar and percussion, all of it held together by the evocative singing of Mark Hollis. "Epic" was how my wife described it during a recent road trip, before ejecting the CD and putting on some Jackson Browne, with a clear sense of relief.

It's hard to resist awarding the album an immediate five stars, especially when considering the scarcity of worthwhile music in the 1980s. A quarter-century later it still sounds ahead of the times, and is still attracting new fans, yours truly included.

Report this review (#834710)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The transformation that began with "The Colour of Spring" attains its objective on "Spirit of Eden". Conventional song structures are eschewed in favor of atmospheric extended explorations. Still, the angst ridden choruses achieve continuity with prior releases, particularly well on the only standout track "Eden", and quite poorly on its successor "Desire". From then on it fails to focus interest in any meaningful manner. The opener "The Rainbow" is the only other highlight, with its languid BRUCE COCKBURN styled guitars ("Stealing Fire" era). Ambient music should leave one feeling more than just an awareness that something has ended but we forgot what it was. Thank goodness for the apple.
Report this review (#915001)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars Grace, minimalistic clarity, surprising grandeur and impressionistic disintegration of structure haunts the unique ambience of Spirit of Eden. A slow, dreamlike and meandering journey that elegantly and deliberately has nestled its way to being a milestone of my musical life.

There's an often present vibrating undertone of an aimless and rather bleak chamber orchestra, or perhaps a rugged and world-weary street ensemble topped off with brass and wood-wind that moans and probes underneath the main structures. Now and then it worms its way out onto the surface as beautifully enriching timbre diversity, a veritable panorama of searching sounds. A choppy and seemingly disconnected baseline of musical driftwood that somehow manages to assemble into an organic, but modern dynamic framework. At times sounds appear, disappear and assemble almost sub-consciously, reaching forceful climaxes in the otherwise tiptoeing and careful move forwards. It's like raindrops on a window, finding their way down, occasionally combining into larger droplets that increase in speed and volume only to dissolve in a dramatic splash in the end. Or perhaps it's like seemingly careless brush-strokes that eventually resolve in a fleeting, but definite, picture.

There are touches of jazz, blues, classical and slight, but non-abrasive, "avant" tendencies. However, what dominates is this marked pop sensibility in the vocal melodies and main motifs of the songs. You can still feel where Talk Talk were coming from. It might be a bit obtuse and slightly cryptic on the surface, but still smoothly and emotionally accessible with enough room for a handful of hooks along the way. So there's that, and an intimately fractured form of rather melodic and expressive ambience, that makes its way through the vast and beautiful emptiness between the instrumentation. There's so much room, so much pause for afterthought and introspection, that the sudden outbursts of crashing, ringing or rumbling guitars and busily explosive percussion stand out in their immensity.

The drums usually present a simple and understated punchy beat whereupon vocalist Mark Hollis can stroke his words carefully and up-close in a melancholy, but touching way. Comforting, soft, textural and spaciously melodic organ and piano lift the weariness and subdued quietude into more hopeful territories, sometimes accompanied by a few guitar strums. A fluttering and clear keyboard fantasy suddenly shimmer discreetly in the background. The more outreaching, but still predominantly tentative, sounds of the guitar gives the proceedings an earthier and more eager flair in their stark, ringing clarity. It can make the music feel desolate at times, but busy and raucously desperate when it joins in with a great deal of fire in the soaring crescendos. At times, you can also find a simmering intensity creeping in, a more pulsing and energetic backdrop, but with maintained clarity and disciplined energy.

It's an irresistible combination of intimate, inviting emotional exploration and alternately sweeping and cryptic musical gestures. Few albums put me right in the heart of it, but Spirit of Eden does, by the power of its vulnerability. It's like you're standing right in its very centre, completely enveloped, and astutely perceptive to every change. The usual defences just turn off. Silence and space makes everything said and heard more acute and piercing. Very, very naked.

One of my favourite albums

5 stars.


Report this review (#1008939)
Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rage on Omnipotent

Bizarre, not easy to digest, absolutely original and artistically essential.

Every time I hear the firsts sounds and minimalist chords of The Rainbow after a while , I confirm again that Spirit of Eden is an atypical well polished gem. Through the suite we find a lyrical and musical journey reminiscent of Eden, masterfully composed and orchestrated throughout its 22 minutes. Starting with the delicacy and restraint of The Rainbow and closing with the unusual and incomparable power of Desire. Indeed, the lyric are ambiguous and difficult to decipher, consistent with experiment. The other three songs also contain a hidden meaning in relation to the loss freedom in Eden.

The edition of the album was serious legal disputes with EMI, which sued the band to produce an ' uncommercial ', which was lost. The group did not tour for presentation and EMI edited 'I Believe in You" as single without permission, and with little success because the song is in line with the rest.

I welcome the great boldness of the band, with Hollis and Freise -Greene as the main protagonists and songwriters. Surely they knew that only time would show the high artistic value of the work, and that's what happened.

Report this review (#1100861)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #6

It's the eighties and, as I can remember, everything from politics to music was noisy and LOUD.
Progressive music was at its lowest point in history, the few survivors from the carnage having to adapt to the new times and its ways. And then, out of a past of illustrious synthpop fame, comes this band with a jewel of an album replenished with music founded on delicacy and silence.
Yes, you've got it right, Silence!

Global Appraisal

Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene, the men behind this whole set, achieve to carve these intimate themes out of a block of silence, adding little-by-little fragile layers of exquisite instruments (mostly acoustic) and sound combinations.

The final result is a series of songs permeated with a feeling of frailty but at the same time extremely powerful in the expression of different flavors of sentiment; and so much so because of the haunting way the vocals are rendered.

The image that always comes to my mind while listening to this album is that of a colorful beautiful flower blossoming in the void of a deserted and barren vastness (go figure it out?).


Sophistication yet (apparent) simplicity.

MH intense, emotional and immediately recognizable voice is the perfect vehicle for his lyrics.

The fabulous cover art is by James Marsh, a designer and illustrator of books, records and advertisements since the mid 1960s.

This record may be seen as a kind of prologue for what would come up next: three years later the final and truly work-of-art from the band would even more accentuate this minimalistic vein and, understandebly but sadly, be the last one to ever see the light of day.

Report this review (#1489809)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2015 | Review Permalink

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