You would do well not to let this beauty pass you by.
As no doubt many of you know, Peter Gee has been the bassist with Pendragon for over thirty years. A very spiritual guy, this is Peter’s fourth mainstream solo release following ‘Heart Of David’, ‘A Vision Of Angels’ and ‘The Spiritual World’. All four of these releases, along with his second Gospel/Christian Worship music album are now more readily available via the fledgling White Knight Records label.
A very long album (over 70 minutes and 20 tracks), after the ‘Radio’ intro (which features the end of a shipping forecast plus other miscellaneous snippets and concluding with the comment “music is a very personal language”) ‘East Of Eden’ sets out to demonstrate Peter’s “linguistic take” on this subject. I was unmoved by my first listen – but it did not have my undivided attention. Subsequently it has grown and grown in my affection and estimation, and I’m jolly sure that if the various shades of prog rock are a part of your musical diet, then you would do well not to let this beauty pass you by!
Not quite a conceptual album, as the subject matter is quite diverse, it nevertheless has an overarching focus upon the world in which we live and in particular “the contrasts between good and evil, the beauty and the brokenness.” Peter demonstrates his multi-instrumental credentials (guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, percussion and programming) and is very ably supported by drummer Steve Christey (Jadis) and vocalists Damian Wilson and Steve Thorne, the contributions of each being heard equally across the fourteen songs (the remaining five tracks being a diverse selection of instrumentals). Hayley Oliver provides backing vocals on a couple of tracks. Surprisingly, the music recorded here was actually written around ten years ago (at the same time as the material on his previous album: the results of this creativity being shared equally between the two releases).
It should be noted that ‘East Of Eden’ is not in any way a complex or technical album, and instead engages the listener through its emotive lyrical and melodic take on the various themes, several of the songs resting on mainly acoustic guitar or flowing keyboard instrumentation: ‘Why?’, ‘Spread Your Wings’, ‘Emma’ and ‘Belinda’ are all excellent examples of this approach. Tremendous harmony vocal arrangements enhance many of the songs, and occasionally Peter lets rip with lusty guitar solos. The most dramatic song – voiced by Wilson – is ‘Arabia’ and this kept reminding me a little of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’(in a good way!) As for the instrumental selections, the adjective “eclectic” is hardly sufficient! ‘Sundays At Woodside’ is a church organ piece, ‘One Day We’ll Meet Again’ is redolent of early Mike Oldfield while ‘Hendrix’ reflects upon the named guitarist’s later, more introspective moments. For me, ‘Eyes Of A Child’ is the pick of the bunch and reminds me of ‘Venus Isle’ era Eric Johnson, while ‘Stradivarius’ is a synthesised tribute to the violin!
Is the album too long? Possibly….but I now wish to add Peter’s earlier solo works to my collection!
Paul Jerome Smith