Spirit Of Eden
The jump from The Colour Of Spring to Spirit Of Eden is as much an advance as The Colour Of Spring was from its predecessor. The result of fourteen months of recording in an abandoned Suffolk church, it’s warm and inviting, filled with rich organic sounds like its predecessor, but downbeat, subtle and gorgeous, where its predecessor relied on pop hooks. Spirit Of Eden was made before the term post-rock was coined, and it’s very much a pioneer of that genre, dispensing with rigid verse-chorus structure in favour of a more impressionistic style, laying down colours and emotions. In terms of harmonic structure and melody, Spirit Of Eden is relatively pedestrian and slow moving, shifting the focus onto production and arrangements, and onto Hollis’ yearning vocals.
There’s also a deep air of spirituality about Spirit Of Eden; the anti-heroin statement of ‘I Believe In You’ is the only song where the subject matter is spelt out, and even that is underpinned by a spiritual current, while titles like ‘Desire’ and ‘Inheritance’, and lyrics like “rage on omnipotent” only mirror the record’s musical content. Its difficult to imagine each of the album’s six tracks outside their context, as they’re designed to work as a suite; the first three all segueing together, while the long silences between the tracks on the second side are just as much a critical part of the album’s flow. And each piece has its own distinct character, whether it’s the surging and unexpectedly violent guitars of ‘Desire’, the soothing organ hook of ‘I Believe In You’, or the naked vulnerability of the closing ‘Wealth’.
I don’t enjoy Spirit Of Eden as much as the huge pop hooks of The Colour Of Spring, but in many ways it’s an even more dazzling and timeless achievement.