2021 / 2836021 Records DK
Review by Kathy Parsons
The story behind Tom Eaton's solo piano album, Snapshots, is almost as interesting as the music! The twenty-five tracks on the album are all about a minute long and have some of the most original titles I've ever seen. Quoting Tom: "Each piece is loosely inspired by the fleeting moments in a life." After releasing a four-album project in 2020 of long ambient works based the elements - Fire, Water, Air and Earth - Tom challenged himself to get to an idea quickly "rather than wandering around in the musical woods as I seem to like to do! I sat at the piano, set a one-minute timer and recorded what came out. No thinking allowed." Despite the limitations of such short pieces (or maybe because of them!), the album flows beautifully from one vignette to the next, maintaining a smooth, relaxing mood throughout. It's fascinating to discover how much substance and emotion can be expressed in such a short time span, but each piece is unique and evocative in its own way.
Keeping it in the family, Tom's wife, Sarah, named many of the pieces with colorful titles like "No Training Wheels," "An Old Man Puts On Galoshes," and "Watching the Dryer" after the pieces were recorded, so don't expect to discover what "The Opposite of a Bagel" is by listening to the music! Even the cover artwork is fun to look at - lots of snapshots from a busy life well-lived! Despite the often whimsical titles, the music on Snapshots is reflective, deeply-felt and on the serious side. Most of the tracks are more ambient than melodic and convey the freedom of improvisation while expressing emotional depth that is immediate and tangible. Again quoting Tom: "I tend to wrap my music in gauze and textures and it was so enjoyable to step out of that world and explore a solitary conversation with an instrument I've been playing every day since I was a teenager." Snapshots strips away the layering of electronic music and clearly demonstrates that Tom Eaton is a consummate artist in his own right. I hope there will be more solo piano albums in the future!
Many people know Tom Eaton's work as Will Ackerman's right hand man at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, co-producing, engineering, mastering and recording other artists' music as well as playing a wide variety of instruments on their albums, but Snapshots is actually Tom's eighth album of his own music since his 2016 album, Abendromen. He also has a new collaborative album coming soon called Brothers with Will Ackerman (guitar) and Jeff Oster (horn).
Snapshots is a digital release and is available from Amazon and iTunes as well as Bandcamp and Spotify. Very highly recommended!
July 9, 2021