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Talk Talk

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Talk Talk Spirit Of Eden album cover
4.17 | 456 ratings | 38 reviews | 53% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Rainbow (9:09)
2. Eden (6:34)
3. Desire (6:57)
4. Inheritance (5:23)
5. I Believe in You (6:10)
6. Wealth (6:43)

Total Time: 40:56

Bonus Track on 2012 Parlophone Bonus DVD :
7. John Cope (4:40) *

* Originally released in 1988 as B-side of "I Believe In You" single.

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Hollis / vocals, piano, organ, guitar
- Paul Webb / electric bass
- Lee Harris / drums

- Tim Friese-Greene / harmonium, piano, organ, guitar, producer
- Robbie McIntosh / dobro, 12-string guitar
- Mark Feltham / harmonica
- Henry Lowther / trumpet
- Andrew Stowell / bassoon
- Michael Jeans / oboe
- Andrew Marriner / clarinet
- Christopher Hooker / cor Anglais
- Nigel Kennedy / violin
- Hugh Davis / "shozygs"
- Simon Edwards / Mexican bass
- Danny Thompson / double bass
- Martin Ditchman / percussion
- Chelmsford Cathedral Choir / chorus vocals (5)

Releases information

Artwork: James Marsh

LP Parlophone ‎- PCSD 105 (1988, UK)

CD Parlophone ‎- CD PCSD 105 (1988, Europe)

SACDh EMI ‎- 7243 591455 2 5 (2003, Europe) Remastered by Denis Blackham and Phill Brown

LP+DVD Parlophone ‎- PCSDX 105 (2012, Europe) Bonus DVD (NTSC,audio only): original album remixed in 96kHz/24-bit w/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TALK TALK Spirit Of Eden ratings distribution

(456 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(53%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TALK TALK Spirit Of Eden reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
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.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by FloydWright
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.

Review by arcer
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.
Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by OpethGuitarist
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.

Review by Prog-jester
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.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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 Partyīs Over and Itīs 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 itīs 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 weīre 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 youīll 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. Itīs 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 donīt expect happy tunes here.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by 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

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by kenethlevine
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.
Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.


Review by jamesbaldwin
5 stars Talk Talk are Mark Hollis, Tim Friese-Greene and a lot of session men, firsts Paul Webb and Lee Harris, and musicians of chamber music.

After two minutes and 15 seconds of atmospheric music, I would say ambient music, with sounds that combine rock with jazz and with a chamber ensemble, the distorted, croaking electric guitar and the percussion start, and finally Hollis' voice arrives: this is the beginning of one of the most beautiful facades of a Lp in the history of rock.

As Piero Scaruffi rightly wrote, it is a music that proceeds slowly, as if it were to overcome a very strong inertia, such that to develop a musical phrase the sound struggles to articulate the disease, it is held back, then finally the fuse lights up, and in this case Hollis's phenomenally sounding electric guitar and his voice, which in fact delineates two rhythmic verses but slow and a refrain where the sound becomes acute and angelic, and as rightly happens after two verses and a refrain, the solo arrives, which here consists of chamber music on which Hollis's croaking guitar rises, to make a sound orgasm that for a few seconds is almost unbearable. We are at the highest levels of contemporary music - Rainbow: rating 9+.

Finally, Hollis's voice returns, and the song fades, with the same initial inertia, the voice just a whisper, and begins, mixed with the first, the second song, which proceeds with the same inertia: in the beginning only dissonant brass sounds and trumpets, then the guitar and percussion starts

Again we are faced with two stanzas and two refrains, where this time Hollis' voice sings full and dramatic, and is followed by a dissonant loud din, then the trumpets, the song is easier and more linear than the previous one, but it preserves exactly the same sound as guitar, percussion, voice, with chamber music in the background, reaching however much more noisy and dramatic peaks - Eden: rating 8,5.

Then, mixed with the previous one, Desire begins, with a threatening slow guitar riff, this time we are faced with an impending rhythm, which foreshadows a sound explosion that happens shortly after: voice and drums act as a theater for a climax again almost unbearable, cacophonic, noisy, which it describes a disintegration of personality, a destructive landscape. Voice and guitar, with keyboard background, start again, and then give life to the second sound explosion, which does not stop, continues with tribal rhythm (thanks to a great Lee Harris) and distorted guitar. Crossover rock has nothing to do with it, the true prog nature of Talk Talk is post-rock mixed with free jazz and slow core. Paroxysmal ending, which then returns to the initial slow guitar riff - Desire: rating: 9.

Rating side A: 10. One of the best in the history of rock (not only prog-rock) music.

Inheritance (5:23) is a song that again has a dilated structure verse and refrain, where Hollis' voice goes on high notes, in a sweet way, then there is an instrumental interlude of chamber music, and then the voice starts again, which reaches its climax when Hollis puts more intensity into it. We are still at excellent levels, and we have maintained a good level of pathos, but the sound is different from that of the first side, it is less electric, and softer, Rating 8+.

Then a rhythmic song starts, I Believe in You, the first and the only one in which the drum snare keeps the rhythm from beginning to end, with keyboards in the background, and instrumental interlude similar to those of the previous record. This is the single of the album, the most commercial song, however slow and meditative, and has completely lost the dramatic explosions of the voice, we are in the field of serenity, spiritual, celestial music. The level is still good but it has become more normal. Rating 7,5/8.

The second side has three unmixed songs and with a distinct sound from each other, unlike the first and the quality drops slowly, it is no longer extraordinary as that of the first. In particular, the free jazz and chamber music arrangement is lost, to arrive at a more sober and traditional one, the last song, Wealth, is in fact only voice and keyboards, and takes place on three skinny verses plus chorus,

Talk Talk lose their arrangement orchestral and become minimalist, risking becoming a bit monotonous. It is a piece that anticipates Hollis' usual work. The song is not bad, indeed is good but the three-minute fading instrumental tail is completely useless. Rating 7+

The second side is not beautiful as the first: rating 8,5.

I can't give 10/10 to this album for the second side but anyway, overall, despite not having three songs mixed, the second facade is also coherent, and gradually goes towards a more sober and minimalist music that remains of an excellent quality for 5 songs over 6, so ... absolute masterpiece,

Rating 9,5/10 .

Five Stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars The transition continues: from the cerebral Glam Rock of their early days toward more experimental song sounds and structures of their previous album, their third, 1986's The Colour of Spring, with it's two major international hits, "Life's What You Make It" and "Living in Another World."

1. "The Rainbow" (9:09) stripped down, even stark, musical landscapes with very little, very subtle shifts and changes make Mark Hollis' whisper-sung lyrics and things like a swamp-blues harmonica solo and even guitar strums, organ chords, and bass drum and tom hits distinctive (almost irritating) highlights. (17.33/20)

2. "Eden" (6:34) after the bleak austerity of the previous song, the far more active foreground of organ chords, grating guitar strums, occasional loud drum play, and loud bursts of voice from singer Mark Hollis make for a sometimes jarring listening experience. Interesting and definitely unconventional. Quite an unusual and often awkward experience for the nervous system. (8.33/10)

3. "Desire" (6:57) with two and a half minutes of very quiet, subtly nuanced piano, bass, and trumpet play to open this song, the sudden burst of full-band rock loudness at 2:39 is quite harsh and unsettling. A swift return to the quiet, stark motif of the opening by 3:05. This soft, build, and outburst pattern repeats itself with the second entry into the full-band cacophony being continued to the end of the song with the participation of several other instruments in the final minute. I have to admit, this is a memorable, life-altering song. (13.25/15) This soft-starting, slow-building to a crashing climax pattern (with repetition) is what would eventually become the template for the Post Rock song.

4. "Inheritance" (5:23) an unconventional, dissonant, disorganized-sounding, multi-instrumental, polyphonic weave opens and accompanies Lee's brushed snare, Paul's spacious bass, Tim Friese-Greene's sustained harmonium chords, and Mark Hollis' discordant, almost-melody-less vocals. Interesting and challenging. (8.667/10)

5. "I Believe in You" (6:10) within the stark, subtly populated polyphony lies a fairly likable song. Mark sings over the top in a more standard Western style over this more-Western-standardly-constructed and formed song. The contribution of the Chelmsford Cathedral Choir is delightful--even heavenly. This, then, is contrasted to the DAVID SYLVIAN/HOLGER CZUKAY-like odd instrumental additions injected into the second half of the song. (8.875/10)

6. "Wealth" (6:43) an interesting return to the stark, very subtly populated and subtly-shifting songs of the album's opening. This could almost be a song played during a funeral home viewing/visitation. As sparse and somber as this song is, I do, however, happen to really it. (9/10)

Total Time: 40:56

I understand the historical significance that this remarkable collection of very unusual songs has for the evolution (progress) of rock music but, at the time, it was not the kind of music you really wanted to play at a party or to elevate your mood after work or on the weekend. Even now, as fascinating as the journey is, I really don't find myself liking the songs--wanting to get up and dance or write socially-inspiring mottos to.

B/four stars; a very interesting and, ultimately, rewarding musical listening experience that could be a challenging listen for many prog and music lovers but I highly recommend to any self-proclaimed prog lovers--especially those who have found a way into/affinity for the Post Rock world.

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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 an ... (read more)

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Report this review (#506499) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#329703) | Posted by overmatik | Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 p ... (read more)

Report this review (#280163) | Posted by TheoJVerstrael | Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 m ... (read more)

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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, Mau ... (read more)

Report this review (#113531) | Posted by CaptainWafflos | Monday, February 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 p ... (read more)

Report this review (#96087) | Posted by zedkatz | Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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. Li ... (read more)

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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 ... (read more)

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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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#45161) | Posted by | Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#31128) | Posted by jojim | Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#31127) | Posted by | Friday, March 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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