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Album Review: Abendromen
Tom Eaton
Cover image of the album Abendromen by Tom Eaton
Tom Eaton
2016 / Riverwide Records
58 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Abendromen is the first album of original music by Tom Eaton in quite a few years. Currently best-known as the chief engineer at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, Eaton has been working alongside Will Ackerman to co-produce as well as engineer many of the stellar albums that have emerged from that studio since 2010. In addition to working behind the “board,” Eaton has performed on dozens of recordings playing a wide variety of keyed instruments (accordion, Hammond organ, piano, synths, etc.), percussion, bass and “a handful of other oddball noise makers.” Eaton also has his own recording studio, Universal Noise Storage, in Newburyport, MA and has been working full-time in audio since 1993. He started writing instrumental music for piano and synthesizer in 1987 and developed his skills as both programmer and engineer “seeking the point where technology supports the creation of music rather than dominates it.”

Abendromen is a collection of ten original pieces that are piano and keyboard-based and ambient in style. I have to admit that I expected Eaton’s album to be acoustic and more similar to the music that comes out of Imaginary Road, but I am far from disappointed! I find it fascinating to discover a different side to a composer and/or musician! Eaton explains: “Abendromen (from the Dutch ‘abend’ evening and ‘dromen’ dreams) is a song cycle created out of a particularly emotional moment in my life. The album emerged quickly, in a month or so between December 15th 2015 and the middle of January of this year. I play piano, electric guitars, basses (fretted and fretless) and keyboards on the seven primary tracks, one ‘dream’ for each day of the week. There are three ‘bonus’ tracks which are ambient guitar loops that I created and used on the record and which I found trance-like on their own.”

Abendromen begins with “Sunday - Slow Rotations,” a relaxed and dreamy piano and keyboard piece that sets the tone for the album. Richly layered with a variety of instrumental and atmospheric sounds, the piece has a slightly mysterious and poignant feeling - intriguing! “Monday - Midwinter” mixes a somewhat melodic piano with more stark ambient sounds that literally send a chill. “Tuesday - The Compass” has Eaton performing on several instruments that include piano, keyboard, guitars, bass, and percussion. Flowing and gently rhythmic, this is one of my favorites. “Wednesday - In Stillness” goes in a more ambient direction with haunting keyboard sounds behind the quiet, peaceful piano. “Thursday - For Orion” is another favorite. Atmospheric keyboard washes suggest a vast, dark sky while piano and electric guitar sounds float in space to a gentle but steady percussion rhythm. It’s mysterious but also very pleasant and relaxing. “Friday - Patience” has a stronger piano melody and the piece overflows with warmth and quiet serenity. “Saturday - Long Lonely Light” is more free-form and ambient, suggesting the darkness of night and feelings of isolation. The rhythm moves slowly, like the passage of time when sleep eludes you.

Abendromen is a very happy surprise for those (like me!) who only knew or know Tom Eaton for his wizardry at Imaginary Road Studios. This is a very beautiful album of mostly ambient and ethereal music and is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
February 23, 2016
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