published: 18 /
Harmonic and thought-provoking debut album from Aeon Station, the solo project of ex-Wrens' member Kevin Whelan which was fourteen years in the making
Welcome to the album 'Observatory', a piece of work that has taken, on and off, no less than fourteen years to make. For a guy with a large back catalogue already, and given the fourteen year shift with this offering, it is actually Kevin Whelan’s first foray into the solo experience. If you recognise the name then you will know that he has been in musical action as one of the former members of the band The Wrens who released three albums starting in the early Nineties with 'Silver' and were one of the finest live acts ever to grace the stage. Following a bit of a spat between him and band member Charles Bissell over the release of a fourth Wrens' outing, Whelan decided to go his own way and has since formed Aeon Station with assistance from his two other Wrens' bandmates, Jerry MacDonald and Tom Brodeur.
This album has been born from demos and sound files collected over that fourteen year period and is a vivid shift in Whelan's output. Whilst still taking on the unmistakable sound that Whelan has already produced, this is a little more delicate and shows a different side to the artist. During the collection of the songs for it, he got married and started a family which has a more significant meaning in that his now eight year old son was diagnosed with autism at the early age of fifteen months old and Whelan has seen the changes to his and his family's lives ever since. A lot of this album is about reflecting on the changes we all make in life whether it be the loved ones that come and go or the paths we embark on at different times in our lives.
I have to admit I was a little surprised by the harmonic balladeering start to this, but, however, it was a good sort of piano driven surprise on 'Hold On' and 'Leaves'. This gives way to 'Fade' which starts with a Peter Hook-type bass and about realising your own diffidence is for me one of the strongest tracks on here. Moving into the middle order. 'Move' is another piano driven track followed by 'Queens', a thumping waspish guitar affair that is another of the stronger moments in an ultimately strong album. 'Empty Rooms' is a life observation in itself with Whelan's lyrical mastery opening with “There’s something about the empty rooms that makes me feel this way/The things we face alone.” 'Better Love' is fast and raucous reminding me of an early Arcade Fire at times, and this is followed on by the last more sedate 'Alpine Drive', which leaves me full and satisfied and feeling quite reflective which if that is what the artist was thinking of over the fourteen years he has done his job well.
A reflective album from an artist that has much to reflect on and has detailed it very well indeed.
Everything at Once
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