|Kyle Allbright||12-July-2009||The Fruit Fallen|
James Bryon Schoen / electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Matt Cozin / drums
T.D. Towers / bass
Michael Drucker / violin
Eve Harrison / flute
Rachel Kiel / flute
Arthur Sugden / piano, organ
Perhaps youíve been looking for a band in the style of Jethro Tull with elements of heavy metal added to their music, or perhaps you wished you found enjoyment in the Arjen Lucassen-led project Ayreon, but found the starry heights too pretentious for your tastes. If so, you may find the Edensong project led by guitarist and vocalist James Bryon Schoen is just right for you.
The Fruit Fallen is an album of breadth and depth, and it will appeal to fans of heavier folk-induced symphonic rock. An array of instruments adds to the eclecticism, where the guitars and flute are most dominant. The cello, organ, and African drumming are also well utilized and well placed, establishing an earthy folk identity complete with pastoral overtones and an aggressive execution.
Many albums of orchestral proportions tend to be long and overstay their welcome. At 75 minutes, this may be true for The Fruit Fallen as well. However, every second of this album is engaging, with litter filler, and densely composed. It does provide for a challenging listen, and you will need patience to unravel all the mysteries. You may well find yourself exhausted in the end.
Each song is good, and a number of them are great, and they can stand alone on their own without relying on the albumís concept. Appreciably, Edensong avoids much of the fallout apparent in most lengthy concept albums by grappling their tendencies towards pretentious heights and bringing them back down to earth.
The instrumental passages are the meat and potatoes of this album, and they often execute an angular style that reminds me of one of the most respected and revered bands in all of experimental music, Anglagard. This is indeed, high praise!
Water Run, the first track, is a wonderful song with some great instrumental interplay that mostly reminds me of the composition style of Genesis in a suspended moment of splendor. The syncopated opening of the song indicates that we are about to listen to something special. Like with many songs on this album, itís the vocals that hold it back, if anything.
The Baptism starts out much more delicately, but the pace heats up later in the track, ending with one of the heaviest riffs on the album. Dream Theater comparisons are most obvious here. Reflection is a guitar, flute, and tabla piece that makes for a very pretty song. This track is very intricate, and hypnotic in a gentle manner.
The Prayer opens with some awesome classical guitar, but soon jumps into a heavier section. This tends to be the formula by which Schoen composes many of his songs. This is not one of the better songs on the album, but itís still good. The composition is rather predictable, moving back and forth between the heavy and the delicate.
Nocturne is the best track on the album. The song opens with vocals and piano, and represents the best vocal demonstration on the entire album. In my opinion, this song alone is worth picking up the album. Many of the folk tendencies are traded for a symphonic approach, and as such, it is the most Genesis sounding song on the album. The piano and organ really shine on this piece, and in true Genesis fashion the interchange between chorus and verse is interrupted by an instrumental breakdown of true progressive splendor. The darker and heavier moments never feel out of place with the more delicate symphonic and folk passages. Incorporating all these dynamics fluidly is not an easy thing to pull off with positive results, but it all seems so natural on this album. The song ends with a return to the organ-laden chorus we heard in the beginning of the song, thereby coming full circle. Perfect!
The Sixth Day is a great song, and probably the most memorable, as it has become stuck in my head a number of times. Itís stylistically more of the same we have already experienced in this album, and you will find another great instrumental portion about halfway through the song, book ended with heavy guitar riffs.
One Breath, To Breathe is the softest piece on the album, and not as obviously complex or intricate. The chorus is rather breathtaking, however, and the music fits perfectly with the lyrics. Itís a sad song, but a gorgeous song.
The Reunion is my favorite song second only to Nocturne. Like many of the other songs, it starts off softly and gracefully with a lot of acoustics, but then explodes into majestic interplay rounded out with heavy riffing. The Ďrock outí factor on this song is stronger than the other tracks, and the interludes in this piece are where the Anglagard styling is most notable. The song fades into three minutes of silence before the music starts again. This is a Ďhidden trackí titled To See But Not Believe, which brings more comparisons to Dream Theater. Itís a nice way to end the album even if I am not a big fan of the trick of a long silence preceding a Ďhidden track.í
For some, turnoffs will include the albumís length and the vocals. The vocals are adequate, but I wonder what difference a more wide-ranging and naturally talented singer would have made. Yet, to ask such questions is probably futile, given that this is Schoenís project, and if he wishes to sing that is his choice, considering itís ultimately a work of his expression.
Every album has its drawbacks, but in summary The Fruit Fallen is a truly unique album of progressive splendor that I recommend highly for any music fan. The potential to reach a wide-ranging audience is greater than most albums in the genre for itís eclecticism rather than itís accessibility. The instrumentation, composition, and production are all top notch. Itís a unique and highly rewarding listen, but just be ready to listen to something a little more laid back and a little less demanding once itís all over.
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