Boomkat Product Review:
Stroom outdo themselves again with a survey of sorely slept-on post-punk and ambient works by Stockport’s Kevin Eden, rounding up material from 1982’s sought-after ‘Open Heart’ album and an impossible-to-find tape, plus unreleased installation soundtrack pieces, to ideally frame a quietly pivotal character of his time
Kevin Eden’s story is a familiar one of an artist whose work sadly didn’t received acclaim in their own time, but scratch a little deeper and it soon becomes apparent that his personalised, overlooked oeuvre braids various, vital strands of punk and ambient history since the late ‘70s. ‘Passed Beyond’ offers a perfect portal into his personalised soundworld, spanning beautifully eerie post-punk as 41 Degrees, thru to his liminal experiments with synths, tape and textured percussion as KS Eden. It also covers a period of time between his local record shop proprietor, Paul Morley tipping him off to see The Sex Pistol’s 2nd gig at the Free Trade Hall, thru his years with the Manchester Musicians Collective, and ultimately an embrace of ambient experimentation that would see him establish friendship with Laraaji and work as Eno’s studio assistant, prior to establishing the WMO label as a home for Wire/Dome projects - including a crucial CD compilation of works by the legendary Michael O’Shea.
We can only imagine that the likes of Finders Keepers are kicking themselves over sleeping on Kevin’s catalogue, fitting so snugly as he does into the history of great music from Greater Manchester, and how it’s long been interconnected with the wider musical world. In particular the 41 Degrees cuts such as the spindly guitars and harmonised vox of ’Silent Towns’ and the languid groove of ‘The Spirit Moves’ clearly resonate with the likes of those Stano and Dublin post-punk reissues as much as The Durutti Column or Orior nuggets, yet for all the time and money spent on studio recordings, the final LP landed during a national press strike, meaning no review coverage and leading to 400 of the 1000 copy pressing being destroyed, with remaining copies to become collector’s items. However, in later years he would embrace DIY recording alongside Stockport pal Dennis Cook, which generated 1987’s ‘Earth Murmurs And Other Pieces’ and a handful of highlights on this set, most beautifully in the pastoral scapes of ‘In Open Country’ and nocturnal moorland atmosphere of ‘Cross Track’, included along with his later forays into soundtrack installation, realised to accompany A/V works created for his Fine Art degree studies in London.
Nowadays Kevin Eden has embraced the Vedantic Advaita tradition, and is better referred to as Veerji Hasyananada, a name bestowed upon him by Laraaji. His works, from his own releases to the reissues of others via WMO (Michael O’Shea et al) remains a singular example of cross-cultural ‘80s experimentation, and is bound to enchant a whole new wave of ears thanks to this sterling compilation.