For me, Also Eden are one of the best new British progressive rock bands in recent years. With About Time (2006, see review) and It's Kind Of You To Ask (2008, see review) they released two albums containing excellent neo-prog. Therefore expectations ran high for their next release. Out of the blue I heard the news that lead singer Huw Lloyd-Jones had left the band. Bad luck, was my first reaction since his strong vocals, reminiscent of Alan Reed (ex-Pallas, ex- Abel Ganz), belonged to one of the strongest characteristics of the band's compositions. However, it happens quite often that lead singers leave a band to seek their luck elsewhere.
Rather soon the remaining band members found a good replacement since Rich Harding is an excellent singer as well. According to his mother he could sing before he could even talk! At the age of eighteen he already fronted a band; next came several other bands including a Marillion tribute group. Soon after Huw's departure Rich acceded and the band started to write new material. In no time they wrote material for about half an hour of music that was ready to be recorded. In the autumn of 2010 they released Differences As Light, an EP or mini-CD that was released to kill the time between It's Kind Of You To Ask and their next full-length album. Besides it's a nice way to introduce the new singer to their fans.
I have to admit that I had some problems with getting used to the slightly different sound on Differences As Light. Rich Harding wasn't the problem. His vocals sound wonderful and reminded me of Geddy Lee (Rush), Steve Perry (ex-Journey) and Benoit David (Yes, Mystery). While listening to the album for the first time, I missed the great keyboard and guitar solos by Ian Hodson (keyboards) and Simon Rogers (guitars). On the previous releases these solos were really awesome, but in the new compositions these musicians have a more or less supportive role. There's a slightly different approach of their music. It seems as if they have chosen to build up the music towards a musical climax. The first track Seeing Red is a fine example of this new approach. With the sound of choirs made by keyboard samples they create a rather conventional atmosphere in progressive rock music, but it's still very enjoyable. For English speaking people the second track has a rather odd title, but for people from The Netherlands it doesn't sound strange at all since Oud En Nieuw means the turning of the year. Well, having a Dutch drummer (Dave Roelofs) and a singer who used to live in our country, it isn't that strange to give a song a Dutch title. It was dedicated to a café in the city of Utrecht. It's a very relaxing piece dominated by acoustic guitars. The beautiful sound of a violin played by Eric Hodson really gives you the feeling that you're listening to a love song. Reality Cheque, divided into three different parts, is the final and also longest track on this EP. Some lyrics were taken from Hazel O'Conner and the late Billy Mackenzie, some of Rich Harding's musical heroes. The music of this piece is the most adventurous on the album. The bass parts from Steve Dunn have a leading role on this epic track and the melodic guitar solos performed by Simon Rogers are just breathtaking. For ten minutes we go through different moods and the song ends with a beautiful climax.
After the final tones have died away you realize that this disc is much too short, for I wanted to hear more of such excellent prog music. Unfortunately, this piece of art only lasts for 25 minutes; it's wrapped up in a beautiful cover painted by Graeme 'Twig' Bell. In a way it reminded me of the cover of Satellite's A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset as painted by the famous Mark Wilkinson.
Also Eden have the intention to go on tour in Europe and to work on a full-length album. However, the new singer Rich Harding had a serious motor cycle accident that shocked every one familiar with the band. Thank goodness he survived this terrible accident and while reading this interview Rich Harding is recovering. If you want to know more about the accident and the status quo of Also Eden please read the interview I had with both Rich Harding and Simon Rogers. If everything goes well we can expect a new album and live performances in 2011. I'm already looking forward to both events!
Read the interview with Simon Rogers and Rich Harding
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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