Kevin Penkin

" Eden has snippets of true actual film-music goosebumps "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the download only release

Every year you need to go through the massive list of releases to find those hidden treasures. And it's safe to say Australian composer Kevin Penkin made one of the attempts for surprise of the year. Penkin is mostly known for his music for video games and anime series, and Eden is one of the recent anime series airing on Netflix. Needless to say, I'm not overtly familiar with anime nor the music that's featured within. But Eden is definitely a sweet find. A blend of more ambient soundscape in parts that could easily push you away, but mostly at its core an emotional angle that keeps luring you back in. And it's the emotional angle and the brief but pleasant action that will make you so glad you pushed through all those unknown scores, to find this hidden treasure.

True: the album is at one point too long, and features too many short tracks that make it practically impossible for Penkin to develop some kind of emotional development. For every spark of emotional grandeur (mostly highlighted by the violin, electronic violin and cello or piano), it is lost due to time constraints. It is needless to say that when time allows the idea to form ("Uncle John") that Penkin's impressive emotional idea makes more sense, all the while the same shiver goes down your spine briefly in "Sara" before it's broken down too soon again. That's the problem of Eden, too many short tracks, too little time to construct a meaning to an otherwise tantalizing idea. The ideas are here, the emotional content is very much alive and yet time does not give Penkin the chance to flesh it all out.

And yet when it's all done the way it supposed to, Eden surely sounds exciting and interesting. Enough to give it a chance. The begin with the wonderful elegiac song "The Garden of Eden", the wonderful emotional vibe in "Eden Waltz" that you wished continued for minutes to come, or the true Ludwig Göransson brass in tracks such as "Genesis", "Chasey", "Demolition" or "Red vs. Blue", it are moments like these that make you happy to have sit through all those unknown works. To sit through the bulk of all those releases to find those you would have dismissed just as easily just for being composed by another unknown composer. Yet luckily sometimes patience pays off.

Speaking of the duo combination of "Demolition" / "Red vs. Blue", it's so wonderful to hear snippets of brass (even if it's sampled or not), it's so rewarding to hear ideas being formed and getting the time to explode, even if it's briefly. And let's not forget "The Robotic Code of Ethics" when suddenly the vocal song is replaced by the strong brass, sending shivers down your spine one last time. That's why Eden is worth it. No matter the soundscape here are there, it's the ideas, emotional resonance and often ethereal haunting music (courtesy of the returning vocals and piano) that make Eden memorable. Trim it down, erase some short tracks or mix others together to discover what Penkin's intentions are with Eden. To create a haunting and rewarding experience that honestly emotionally captured me, stuck by me, resonated with me. Enough to nominate it as already one of the surprises of the year.

Track Listing

1. The Garden of Eden (3.20) Excellent track
2. Genesis (1.18) Excellent track
3. The Capsule Under the Tree (2.18)
4. Recharge (0.36)
5. Ocean Way (2.10)
6. Reprogram (1.38)
7. Sunrise Over the Cube (0.38)
8. Uncle John (2.36) Excellent track
9. Sara (1.20)
10. VR (0.43)
11. Valhalla (0.58)
12. Eden 3 (1.20)
13. Dreams (0.38)
14. Chasey (1.54) Excellent track
15. Return to Base (2.01)
16. Eden Waltz (1.37) Excellent track
17. Sunset (1.03)
18. Liz Projections (0.33)
19. ZERO (1.26)
20. Appledrop (1.26)
21. Penrose Steps, A.I. Bloom (4.47)
22. Password (0.42)
23. Truth Is (1.30)
24. Eden Zero (1.27)
25. Archive (3.08)
26. Mama & Papa (1.50)
27. Detonation (1.43)
28. Removal (1.12)
29. 4 (1.14)
30. Dr. Fields (1.18)
31. Memory Fields (1.14)
32. The Place Where Everyone Laughs (2.15)
33. Sara Grace (1.35)
34. Rain (1.16)
35. Demolition (2.10) Excellent track
36. Red vs. Blue (2.32) Excellent track
37. Strawberry Blonde (1.30)
38. The Girl in the Field (1.38)
39. The Robotic Code of Ethics (1.52) Excellent track

Total Length: 64.26
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Released by

Milan Records (download only release 2021)

Vocals by

Amelia Jones & Elspeth Bawden