Amid a modern music scene plagued with uniformity and mass production, EDEN is a breath of fresh air. With electronic and acoustic flourishes alike, and paired with his unparalleled ability to humanize new-age pop, EDEN’s debut LP vertigo honors the artist’s heartfelt and astute relationship with music. The album is slated to place this newcomer on the mainstream radar.
Still little known to the masses, Irish singer-songwriter Jonathan Ng began creating music as The Eden Project but, along with a shift in sonics, rebranded himself under the moniker EDEN in 2014. His first two EPs — 2015’s “End Credits” and 2016’s “i think you think too much of me” — presented him as a neo-electronic tour de force with a sound in a category of its own. Now, with his first full-length LP vertigo, EDEN solidifies his position as an innovator who has mastered the intersection of pop-EDM and personal artistic expression.
The first track, “wrong,” is barely a minute in length and is void of any background instrumentation. Rather, EDEN’s unadulterated and distinctive voice opens the album as he wonders aloud, “I could be more / Isn’t there more?” establishing an introspective tone. The rest of the album follows suit, offering a lyrical journey of fresh contemplations as the opening song fades seamlessly into “take care.”
“lost//found” stands out as an acoustic ballad on which EDEN’s voice drips with emotion and, at times, fades away so completely that it is barely a breathy whisper. It is easy in these instances to imagine Ng singing into a microphone with his eyes closed, wholeheartedly immersed in his art form. The tendrils of his voice interweave effortlessly with soothing guitar strums to create a track that is refreshingly pure and undiluted by synthetic sound.
Immediately after “lost//found” comes “crash,” a charged message of farewell to a bygone friend or lover. Just as his voice fades into a mourning, “How could you do this to me?” he launches into a powerful chorus completed by a forceful bass. Imbued with bittersweetness, “crash” is an honest portrait of a raw, emotional journey that lacks a conclusive or even positive ending — it is a journey that mirrors the reality and volatility of healing.
With “gold,” EDEN’s profoundly individual connection to his music is evidenced in the organic sounds of shuffling and speaking into the microphone. Originally released as a single alongside “crash,” this track embodies EDEN at the peak of his musical prowess. He drops innovative, electronic beats but never loses his human touch through his soulful and saturated voice — a quality that is seldom found in artists deeply entrenched in the music industry today.
Lamentful yet resolutely hopeful, “forever//over” represents EDEN’s willingness to experiment with sounds that range from the ethereal to the piercing and powerful. The track gradually becomes more upbeat and incorporates layers of more electronic sounds as his voice crescendos and swells in cadence with the artful instrumentation. Interestingly, the track concludes with a hushed, hardly-distinguishable conversational sequence between Ng and a female voice, replete with flirtatious chuckles and candid dialogue, which reinforces the blunt and unposed nature of his music.
From start to finish, vertigo’s atmospheric soundscapes and organic sentiments offer a jarringly personal meditation on the tribulations of loss, love and maturation.