CD Review

Eden - "Fire & Rain"

By Mike Ventarola

Fire & RainBand Lineup:
Sean Bowley: guitars, tamboura, handbells, and vocals
Tracy Ellerton: guitars
Ewan McArthur: Bass
Peter Barrett: Drums, Arabic and Indian percussion

This 1994 recording released by Projekt features a band from Australia to give us a taste of the darkside from down under. Unfortunately, the only other information that can be accessed about this group is posted on the Projekt label online catalog.

The Darkness In Me is a love song honoring two dark natured souls who finally meet and embrace this realm together. This track is full flavored Goth with the just the right combination of church organ type sounds and angelic choirs during the refrain.

Snake is mournful, honoring the dead bride that does not sing any longer. "My poor bride lies broken. No more I hear her wanton song. Love lies dead - in my head". Again we encounter the typical minor chords prevalent in Goth, but they are so accurately placed to make it still sound fresh.

Why? begins with an electronic wailing where we encounter that realization of a relationship that will eventually fall apart but we choose to "ride it to the end." The calculated electronics that give the impression of lamentation sporadically play between this almost folk Goth song.

Hooveless Horses is among my favorite tracks. It creates the aura of the Phantom of Opera with the vocal reverb sounding as if it is coming from the walls. This track also utilized every microphone mechanization known to us at that time to showcase the voice in every possible sound environment. It is totally played via keyboard to provide a church organ sound that lends to the mystique very well.

Fire and Rain begins with a low drone with what sounds likes sticks burning in the background. Musically, this song employs sounds reminiscent of the Middle Ages with Gregorian chants. We are brought to a place where one is so taken by someone that they feel as if they are caught between fire and rain. Rain and fire effects are used in this song to give it just the right amount of macabre chill. "Into my void arrives your nothing…and now the sparks strike behind my eyes."

Sky Above; Sea Below segues from Fire and Rain with Middle Eastern flavor not unlike that used by Loreena McKennitt or Dead Can Dance. It is also mixed with vocal samples that careen out of the void like memories on the wind.

Song Slowly Sung follows immediately where the vocals are reverbed to sound as if in a darkened church somewhere during an unknown time. More samples of dialogue are used between various sound effects and drones to give a lamentable vision and feel. This is unrequited love that has only memory to clutch to their chest.

Stretched On Your Grave continues with this long segue of songs with backward sampled dialogue at different speeds. Low drone and wind like effects are used while an occasional chiming bell plays time with our heart. Here, the vocals are reflective of Arcana where the song stands on its own in acappella while the background serves to just provide a mood rather than harmony for the vocalist. This song takes Bowley to the forefront where his sound is crisp and pure, unencumbered by the wizardry of microphone effects. This is a song to one already dead and buried. Love severed through death and all that is left to give is this song in a lonely churchyard whilst sprawled atop the layers of dirt that separate the lovers for this time. The song further explores rumination via medieval style flute that segues from the midst to provide a bittersweet memory. Had a video been connected to this song, I suspect it would have been one of musical history's most heartbreaking to watch.

Rooms Above The Sea continues to capture the mournful essence with a segue that uses more church like tones and is sampled with the cries of whales. Bowley's vocals are pushed further into the background like a faded memory, allowing the music and the whale sounds a more prominent position. This eerie tune could also be a commentary about our sea creatures captured and stuck in "rooms above the sea." The ending provides samples of birds chirping which leads into the next song yet again.

Breath Upon New Eyes darkly intones and subtly brings us back to the Goth minor chords. This song then kicks into overdrive, pelting with an erotic middle eastern flavored percussion that should have been on every compilation in this genre. This band really extols their talents to the fullest when incorporating this type of rhythm.

Just Like Water; You Run From My Eyes is the hardest goth rock song on this selection. Bowley and company once again pull out the stops with the nuances of background sound effects and catchy refrains. This song heavily showcases the band's ability to undertake any format and create it as a signature piece.

Eden successfully mastered pulling at the heartstrings and lulling us into many mood settings with the release of Fire and Rain. It is an impressive body of work that should lend many fans in this genre a happy medium from which to build their musical library. Rather than incorporating anything trite, Eden used everything at their disposal from sound effects to subtle changes in rhythm. They truly excel with middle eastern flavored sounds, yet the more contemplative pieces reminded one of something out of "The Crow" soundtrack. This band demonstrated that they should not be categorized for any one sound that is prevalent within the Gothic movement, as they have mastered them all and are willing to display them for us. If you are looking for a band that doesn't use the same sounds repeatedly, then Eden should be investigated. Considering that this disc was made in 1994, this band created a sound that has longevity. It still plays fresh today, and I will venture that it will still sound fresh 10 years from now.

Contact Information:
Post: P.O. Box 683, South Yarra, 3141, Melbourne, Australia

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