Music Reviews

Artist: Tom Eaton (@)
Title: How It Happened
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: *****
Previously on Riverwide Records, pianist, synthesist and soundscape artist Tom Eaton makes his debut on the Spotted Peccary label with 'How It Happened'. I could have told you it was only a matter of time before Spotted Peccary picked him up because back in 2017 Eaton was well on his way to creating the kind of ambient music the label thrives on. On this new work consisting of eight tracks totaling 70 minutes, Eaton imbues his compositions with just enough melodicism to hold the listener's attention, but not so much that would seem thematically bogged down in either grandiose or trite melodies. It is precisely this quality that separates great ambient from the cliches of New Age music. While not entirely minimal (there are usually a number of subtle things happening in the layering), Eaton's style now is more reflective of Brian Eno and Harold Budd collaborations than ever before. Even when a piece has a defined melody, as in "MK and How It Happened," it is embellished atmospherically, and not orchestrally. Melodies are simple and repetitive, giving a "sonic wallpaper" effect, one often used by Eno. As a synthesist, Eaton creates lush sonic environments you can get lost in but they don’t feel cluttered or claustrophobic. The movement is slow and sedate, as if out of time, with almost a time dilation effect if you immerse yourself in it. This I noticed on two of the longer tracks, "Genezen" (13:01), and "Until Her Eyelids Flutter Open" (13:47), where I just completely lost track of time and place. 'How It Happened' is an album you can return to again and again when you're in a contemplative or meditative mood, without feeling like you've visited this environment too often.

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