❉ Ange Chan on the latest excursion into ambient electronica from 4th Eden aka composer Martin Eve.
4th Eden is the alias for Martin Eve, a composer and musician who is currently living in North Wales and who draws influences not only from the clear night skies above, in his latest album of ambient electronica Dark Skies, but also Isao Tomita’s synth interpretation of Holst’s The Planets Suite, which he first heard as an enthusiastic teenager in the 1980s. From there he started listening to other classic electronica such as Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre and on listening to the album, you can detect elements of those influences in his music.
Developing his love for all things synth, other influences include Ultravox, John Foxx, Fiat Lux, Human League, Bill Nelson, and Peter Gabriel. More recently, Martin has been inspired by contemporary electronica artists such as Moby, Jon Hopkins and Ulrich Schnauss, as well as soundtrack composers such as Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) and Hans Zimmer, who have greatly inspired him in the production of his music.
As his love for music developed Martin started writing music in his twenties during the 1980s, which was then produced on a Fostex X15 4-track recorder. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, he stopped writing and didn’t start up again until 2009. Technology had somewhat developed since the ‘80s and around that time Soundcloud got off the ground. A perfect storm was starting to emerge for Martin.
Now for the technical bit… The majority of 4th Eden’s music is composed using Virtual Studio Technology plug-ins and his studio setup consists of a Digital Audio Workstation using Cakewalk software, a MIDI keyboard, KRK studio monitor and a Focusrite 6i6 audio interface.
As for the name of 4th Eden, Martin drew influence from Moby whose real name is Richard Melville Hall. Moby is the great-great-great nephew of Herman Melville who wrote the book Moby Dick, hence his artiste name. Using a similar methodology Martin comes from the Latin Martinus which in turn is derived from the name of the Roman god, Mars. Mars is the 4th planet from the sun. His surname Eve is linked biblically to Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, hence 4th Eden.
So, what led Martin to compose Dark Skies? He originally had an idea of a ‘space’ album about eight years ago, with a working title of Upsilon Andromedae which is a constellation ‘only’ forty-four light years away from our solar system. This star system has planets that are within the ‘Goldilocks zone’ or in other words, just like our own planet Earth. This idea evolved over time and the title Dark Skies was born, inspired by Martin’s former residence – the Brecon Beacons National Park, who obtained International Dark Skies (IDS) status back in 2012.
The album itself takes you on a journey to ‘Destination Chillout’, as it weaves its magic through the nine tracks, some of which are up to eighteen minutes in length; this allows the listener to fully appreciate the fullness of the music without interruption.
The opening track Contact starts as the album means to go on, with a gentle opening morphing into complex multi-layered sounds, evoking thoughts of an alien life-form making peaceful contact with Planet Earth in all its natural beauty and wonderment. In contrast, the following track Scorpius, although still ambient in nature, pulls a more dramatic punch in this celestial aural journey. This theme continues into tracks three and four (Arcus and Requiem for the Cosmos respectively) which gives all the appropriate celestial feels.
Track five, Hydrus offers a dramatic Doctor Who vibe in parts with an opening of clashing cymbals and choral voices morphing into gentler synthesizer arrangements, evoking the sounds of OMD. The Void floats into thoughts of heavenly cherubs floating carefree on celestial clouds whilst the title track Dark Skies (featuring Martin’s old soundtrack buddy Grahan Lavallin on guitar) evokes thoughts of laying down on a grassy nocturnal hillside with your partner of choice watching the night sky and the stars swirling in the distant galaxy. During the middle eight of this track, you pass through the milky way as you make your onward journey to further celestial skies.
As we travel towards the end of the album, we are exposed to an otherworldly vibe punctuated by crashing synthesizer sounds in track 8, The Third Eye. Finally, we reach the ultimate track, Centaurus which is an epic soundscape with a pulsating rhythm, cathedral-like in its vastness, just like the universe. We are taken into dark staunch places evoking armies of alien life forms invading Earth with a vengeful purpose, reminiscent of The War or the Worlds. Eventually calmness pervades, fading into void-like eternal nothingness. You can’t fail to be emotionally moved by this album whose individual tracks sit together cohesively as it takes you to other worlds.
Dark Skies is the fourth album under the banner of 4th Eden. Previous albums are Infinity (A Cosmic Love Story) released by Global Journey, Pictures on a Soundscape and Atmospherik Mekanisms. He has also released a couple of EPs, entitled Qomolangma and Organik Reflektion.
4th Eden’s other discipline is the production of ‘sync’ music used on TV, adverts and film. To date, Martin has had his music used for shows such as BBC’s The One Show, Crimewatch, Channel 5’s Nightmare Neighbour Next Door and Celebrity Ghost Watch. Martin also writes music with his partner, Marianne Holland, who is also an accomplished composer in her own right. Together, they are called The Hidden Flame (drawing the influence for the name from a Bill Nelson track of the same name) and have released one EP to date called Cloud Tunes. They plan to release Cloud Tunes II very soon.
Finally, to satisfy his love of ‘80s synth music, Martin also plays in a covers band called Supa Nova where he plays the keyboards and trumpet. They play mostly around the North Wales area.
Dark Skies will appeal to anyone who likes soundtrack music or chilled out instrumental electronica. Turn off the lights, put on some ambient lighting, and listen… you are about to be taken on a celestial journey!
❉ Ange Chan is a regular contributor to We Are Cult and is our resident synth queen. She has written and published two novels and six volumes of poetry and her current long-standing work in progress is her third novel, Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots.