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Also Eden

Think Of The Children

Review by Alison Reijman

It is nigh on short of a miracle that this album by English prog rockers Also Eden was ever completed. On July 20 2010, Rich Harding, the lead singer and guitarist was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident shortly after he joined the band.  As a result of the accident, his left leg was badly smashed up, he suffered a ruptured aorta and had to be put into an induced coma while surgeons tried to stabilise his condition after he started developing a chest infection which could have led to pneumonia. Thankfully, Harding is now making a steady recovery to such a degree that the band was not only able to release this hugely enjoyable album, it has also played a handful of gigs in the UK.  As he told Music Street Journal, making Think of the Children was part of his healing process and gave him a lifeline during probably the most challenging period of his life.

This, in many respects, is what makes this album all the more remarkable especially as his band-mates, keyboards player Ian Hodson, guitarist Simon Rogers, bassist Steve Dunn and drummer Lee Nicholas (the newest addition who joined the band last year) waited until he was suitably recovered to record it.  This is their third album following their debut release About Time which was followed up by It’s Kind of You to ask, but this is the first with Harding on vocals.  The album’s central theme is about the lurking menace which faces the ordinary people of today such as the constant 24/7 surveillance and perceived freedoms we are all told we enjoy but which do not exist. These themes recur throughout to such a degree that all the tracks link seamlessly together to present a composite picture of illusion and delusion.  It is not hard to hear which bands have been their main influences. Marillion, Porcupine Tree and Genesis all surface in equal measures throughout.

This is a wonderfully well-balanced and deceptively clever album which will only be fully appreciated after several airings because of the inner life it possesses as well as its fine musicianship. With bands like Also Eden around, English prog is in fine shape and with Harding now starting to walk again unaided, there will be much to look forward to from them in the future.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Think Of The Children – I

Starting with “Think of the Children – I,” the overriding feature is Harding’s urgent, penetrating voice, which knocks you sideways with the power and pain it evokes with just simple piano and keyboards to accompany him before it starts building into a steady solid guitar-led sequence. Though his vocals were changed by the overall impact of the crash, hardly any of the lyrics were altered from their originals written before it happened.

Hiding in Plain Sight
From there, the story moves onto “Hiding in Plain Sight,” throughout which Simon Rogers’s insistent riffing is set against a lighter breezy rhythm and airy keyboards. It then hits a crescendo and the guitar and keyboards swell in a delicious, measured, meticulous way.
Oversight
Next comes the album’s stand out track, “Oversight,” which again carries on the theme of how we are “observed” with Harding stabbing at and probing the words while Rogers offers some fluid guitar at the same time. Dunn and Nicholas work some magic in the rhythm engine room.
Cijfers
“Cijfers” starts with a narrated section from Harding against a backdrop of shimmering keyboards before it hits its stride as a Rush-inspired instrumental. Think “YYZ” in its complexity and effect with lots of sassy guitar and a huge ever-changing beat.
The Greater Game
And from there, they enter Genesis territory with “The Greater Game,” a silvery guitar and keyboards gently underscoring Harding’s voice, building into an atmospheric aural picture, full of light and shadow. Rogers then takes off with a delightfully expressive guitar solo joined in turn by keyboards before Harding comes back, more strident and angry than ever, followed by some beautiful guitar loops. This song will be a joy to see performed live as it has so many gorgeous sonic textures and effects happening within it.
Stealth
Suddenly, the whole mood changes again through the snarling “Stealth,” which takes the album into a completely different headspace with a narrated section spliced between some heavy rock workouts that really engage and connect.
Dream Without A Dream
Back to the dreamy, proggy vibe with “Dream Without A Dream” revolving around a compelling acoustic guitar melody with keyboards adding a subtle dimension. It never runs away with itself but builds almost organically within its own space.
1949
Seamlessly, we have arrived at “1949,” so titled because this was the year the ultimate “Big Brother” novel, George Orwell’s 1984 was first published.  Perhaps this is the most adventurous of all the tracks because of the way it twists and turns melodically, each new passage introducing new effects into the mix, again with Harding’s potent guitar and Dunn’s throbbing bass well to the fore.
Think Of The Children – II
Rounding off is the acoustic “Think Of The Children-II,” which is an excellent high note on which to end, offering a final thought of the children and “giving them space to grow.”
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