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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tom Eaton How It Happened (2019)

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

What we have here is a superb album on night music. Of calm music with nice tinkling notes scattered in somber and turbulent skies

1 Ice 5:37 2 An Unexpected Opening 7:57 3 Mk, and How it Happened 7:18 4 The Slow River 9:21 5 Later, at Night by the Lake 6:58 6 Genezen 13:00 7 The Fog and the Lifting 6:24

8 Until Her Eyelids Flutter Open 13:46

(Progressive Ambient Music)

Progressive ambient! I like the idea, because it sticks pretty well to the signature of this first album of Tom Eaton on Spotted Peccary. Who is Tom Eaton and what is his art made of? This multi-instrumentalist who lives close to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, northeastern Massachusetts, has worked extensively with William Ackerman for the Windham Hill label. And it transpires in his music where are roaming sonic elements which gravitate in suspension and where are lying down some piano and guitar chords which are stretching their tones in repetitive patterns. And when the emotions come from the sea, it gives musical climates attracted by the two extremes; the cold of winters and the heat of summers. HOW IT HAPPENED drifts between these two poles with structures where the elements of winter cohabit with an attractive fusion with those of the summer. At least on this album that turns out to be Tom Eaton's 3rd. A theatrical approach modeled on the opening of The Garden of Fables, from Thierry Fervant's Univers album made in 1980, pushes a distant rumble that advances towards us. The ice breaks and Ice comes to our ears with layers of synth radiating a dark heat to make melting the ice. Between the tonal colors which divide the heat and the cold, these layers, quite musical I would say, are drifting through chords stigmatized in a box of bright ice (a keyboard, an electric piano?) and through resounding bursts of noise, like ice reefs melting. The movement is ambient and quite lyrical with isolated breezes that often suggest that Ice will stop here or there, but that's not the case. It even goes beyond the frontiers of An Unexpected Opening, where HOW IT HAPPENED really takes off in an intense and dramatic musical tale, mainly because of these very melancholic piano schemes that pierce our eardrums with icy reverberations. The synth, as well as guitar's blows, are weaving Siberian atmospheres with a multitude of layers whose colors of aurora borealis embrace the musical evolution of the title. The piano puts down vivid notes which resonate and tinkle, as well as percussive elements, on an icy surface. And as in Ice, the structure meets pouches of loneliness and comes back with a subtle sense of intensity. Under a shady ceiling, the title-track proposes a duel between a piano and a lap-steel guitar. It's as romantic and striking as a good Tim Story or Darshan Ambient. I would put The Fog and the Lifting, which is a splendid title full of romance and melancholy, in this category. Cavernous breezes and scarlet colors weave the panorama of moods which captures the offerings of a solitary piano in The Slow River. Very minimalist, the piano lays down a series of episodic notes that tinkle among nascent prisms. Fine filaments of seraphic voices add to the very ethereal and poetic weight of this title, which survives quite well to Mk, and How it Happened. A wide wave of reverberations feeds the birth of Later, at Night by the Lake where the passage of shooting stars can be hear by brief lines of another tone whose coppery color shears the dark aspect of the night. Scattered pulsations give a more intriguing appearance which becomes amplified by shadows of voice whose provenance remains suspect. The second part proposes a more ethereal journey with beautiful layers of celestial voices which perfect the dreamlike approach of this title. To date, this album runs very well in the night, even with its stormy effects hidden a little here and there. Genezen is a very beautiful title with an introduction that is repeated through the 8 titles of HOW IT HAPPENED. Piano notes fall like repetitive drops. Some of them release a form of echo, creating a very extended sonic pattern dancing with these iridescent layers which have drifted since the introduction. A bass line offers a slow but slow rhythm of which it remains only its radiance, while strata of lap-steel lay down a painful color to a sonic sky more complex than musical that the piano detangles with its graceful fragility. It's the longest title of HOW IT HAPPENED that has the mandate to end this first rendezvous with the music of Tom Eaton. Sharp and strata lively of their scarlet colors light up its panorama. As is often the case, the celestial voices that stand out from these heaps of screaming lines are barely distinguishable, but not the piano that detaches its notes with this restraint that makes it an instrument stingy of its sonic diamond nuggets. The strata drift along the same axis, following an oblong horizontal line which protects these piano notes dying here and there among the many routes of an album that will undoubtedly be an excellent companion to decompress, to read and to fall asleep. A nice album of progressive ambient genre ... I like this expression! Sylvain Lupari (May 4th, 2019) *****

Available at Spotted Peccary's Web Shop

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