EDEN was making waves in the world of electronic music long before he was featured in our “Artists to Watch in 2018” list, but with his debut album vertigo being scheduled for release just one month after our list went up, we really couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to highlight the Irish producer/vocalist/engineer/multi-instrumentalist.

The album is EDEN’s first project since 2016’s i think you think too much of me EP (which contained the Lorde-supported single “sex“). The wait in between the EP’s release and “start//end” (vertigo‘s first single) was the longest that EDEN fans have ever had to wait for new music (clocking in at 13 months), but the end product was undoubtedly worth the wait.

“start//end” led the pack of unconventional singles from EDEN that built up to vertigo. The song not only used wonky production techniques and lush instrumentation, but also featured some of the most dark, twisted and disjointed lyrics of EDEN’s musical career. The other two pre-release singles were no less surprising, with “gold” taking on a simplistic – yet triumphant – sound, and “crash” blowing minds with its creative use of vocal pitch shifting.

Needless to say, expectations for the album were set tremendously high… yet somehow, EDEN still managed to exceed on all fronts with vertigo.

Firstly, the album is a huge change of pace for EDEN. While long-time fans may have expected complex productions across the board with huge EDM-influenced drops, EDEN flipped all presumptions on their heads with a very toned-back album that lyrically dives into all the ups and downs of his life.

The simplistic artwork (as well as the total a cappella “wrong”) sets the stage perfectly for an album of this stature. vertigo may be pretty stripped-down compared to EDEN’s previous work, but don’t confuse that for plainness. What is lost in electronic instrumental layering is made up for with tender vocals and deep-cutting lyrics. The primarily acoustic tracks (“lost//found,” “forever//over,” “wonder”) even serve as some of the most special songs on vertigo, bringing key moments of EDEN’s narrative to life for the very first time.

vertigo‘s rawness is also a major key to what makes it such a special album. Voice cracks, out-of-tune guitars and intimate moments of dialogue are left completely intact, rather than being discarded in light of “professionalism.”

EDM fans may gravitate more towards the album’s more electronic-leaning R&B tracks like “wings,” “float” or “icarus.” The song “float” has debatably the most danceable beat on vertigo, but also challenges listeners with its whining whistles and use of shattering glass as percussion.

vertigo ends as intimately as it starts, with the surefire fan-favorite “love; not wrong (brave)” (which samples a crowd from the “Futurebound” tour) transitioning seamlessly into the album’s piano & violin-riddled closer “falling in reverse.” The song leaves some room during its final two minutes for listeners to reflect on the album, soundtracked by a soft instrumental. “falling in reverse” also features a soundbite from The Emperor’s New Groove, so there’s that.

Looking back on it, every single aspect of vertigo feels intentional and meaningful. Every piece of the puzzle fits exactly where it should to complement the other pieces and bring out the best in them. Though fans from his EDM days as The Eden Project may dismiss this LP at first, those who decide to give it a chance just might end up feeling more intimately connected to his music than ever before. In all his raw and unfiltered glory, this is EDEN.

Listen to vertigo:

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