Album: Abendromen
Artist: Tom Eaton

tomeaton2I don’t know how many albums I’ve written about in the past 5 years or so that have been engineered and/or co-produced by Tom Eaton – at least 30, I’d guess. In his role at the iconic Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, working along side GRAMMY winning producer and Windham Hill Records Founder Will Ackerman, this dynamic duo has become the premier production team for artists in the new age music genre. So it’s interesting to see Tom step out from behind the glass in the control room from working on other artist’s music to producing his own music for a change.

Although, in reality Tom does get recorded a lot on other people’s music when he plays a remarkably wide range of instruments on many of the projects that are done at Imaginary Road. Tom also has his own studio called Universal Noise Storage, in Newburyport, MA. I have the absolute highest regard for Tom’s musical and technical abilities and am thrilled to be hearing and writing about his own music. I also had the opportunity to meet Tom last year at the ZMR Music Awards in New Orleans and was as impressed with him as a person as I am with him as the Jedi master of the recording studio that he is.


Readers may be wondering about the title of Tom’s album and what it means, so I’ll let him explain it in his own words: “There is a self-portrait by Van Gogh that looks just like me (when I was the same age, mid-to late 30’s) and whenever I see it, it reminds me of the Dutch in my life. My mother’s family still has a massive tulip farm in Holland, and so the Dutch hybrid word of the title seemed fitting. My friend Marco is a linguist and he suggested combining the words for “evening” and “dreams” into one, and there it was. I loved it immediately. Abendromen.”


Tom & Will at Imaginary Road Studios

Tom & Will at Imaginary Road Studios

As far as how the music emerged, Tom shared a bit of that story in our recent interview: “Abendromen was born in a number of late night sessions during December 2015 and January 2016, roughly four weeks from start to finish. I was going through some emotional turmoil and, as they sometimes do, the emotions turned into music.In this particular case I chose to get out of the way of the music and out of the way of the process and let things go quickly, or at the pace that they were coming, and just be in the flow of the music. Not critical, which is, of course, my standard headspace when working with music! After a 25-year hiatus from releasing a solo record the time seemed right for me to put something out, and all the elements aligned. After five or six years working alongside Will Ackerman I felt more at home in the genre that was my first love than at any prior time in my life. We love working together. We’re making great records. But here I am in this new genre and no one knows I make my own music, I’m an engineer, sure, producer, sure… but I think I have more to say than that. The right series of events came together to allow me to make this record and I’m grateful for it.”


I’m grateful too, as the album is a delight on every level. There are seven primary tracks, one “dream” for each day of the week. And according to Tom: “There are three ‘bonus’ tracks which are ambient guitar loops that I created and used on the record and which I found trance-like on their own.” On the recording Tom plays piano, electric guitars, basses (fretted and fretless) and keyboards. Although he is highly skilled in the world of synthesizers, programming, and studio wizardry, it is important to Tom that: “technology supports the creation of music rather than dominates it.”


This last statement is perfectly illustrated right from the album’s opening track, entitled, “Sunday – Slow Rotations.” While the primary instrument is the piano, it is richly orchestrated with an electronic soundscape that is quite stunning. As an ambient synth player myself, I’m particularly attuned to the sonic textures and electronic atmospheres a recording artist creates, and Tom’s are absolutely exquisite. I’d put them on the level of luminaries such as Jonn Serrie, David Arkenstone and Suzanne Ciani. The intricacy and balance of these elements with the piano are a reflection of Tom’s skills and sensitivities as an arranger.


A similar balance of elements is found in the next track, “Monday – Midwinter.” True to the title, this piecesteinway captures the quiet reflective nature of winter, evoking an image of a full moon illuminating a field of freshly fallen snow. Words like dreamy, moody, and pensive give an indication of the song’s feel. Tom’s melodic vocabulary on the piano is elegant, expressive, and emotionally evocative, drawing the listener in and keeping them spellbound throughout the composition. On “Tuesday – The Compass,” subtle percussion tracks and electric guitar add a new dimension to the music. There were moments while listening to this piece that very much brought to mind the drifting, head-in-the-clouds vibe of classic Pink Floyd, some of my all-time favorite music.


The title of “Wednesday – In Stillness” describes this song to perfection. I appreciated Tom’s more spacious approach to the piano here, and the contrast of sound and space, allowing his ethereal synthscape to play a more prominent role. As we come to “Thursday – For Orion,” the drum tracks provide a sense of propulsion and forward motion that drives the song a bit more than we’ve heard earlier in the week. Yet, the background is still quite expansive, and this combination of elements reminded me a bit of the music of Patrick O’Hearn. In addition to “Friday – Patience” and “Saturday – Long Lonely Light” sharing the exact same running time of 7:52, as their titles imply, they are both quite expansive and dreamy. On “Saturday” I particularly liked the way Tom’s ambient electric guitar melted into the mix adding subtle sonic flavors.


With the week behind us, we come to the three bonus tracks. As mentioned above, these are very meditative ethereal electric guitar textures that were used as backgrounds in some of the songs, but are presented here on their own. Hearing these tracks in solo, I realized that some of the parts throughout the album that I assumed were synthesizers were actually created on guitar with electronic effects – although an impressive array of keyboard synths were indeed used in this recording. Unlike the rest of the album, these three tracks feature no piano, just floating deep space electronic guitar ambiance that will appeal to fans of Jeff Pearce, who Tom cites as an influence. They are all quite lovely and make for a spaciously serene ending to this exquisite album.


tom-eatonI must say that Abendromen was a bit of a revelation. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a role the ambient electronic elements play in this recording considering the predominantly acoustic nature of the music that Tom works on at Imaginary Road Studios. While the piano is definitely the primary instrument in the seven main compositions, the level of attention and detail that Tom put into the soundscapes adds tremendously and definitely takes the music to a whole other level. That said, I was greatly impressed with the compositional depth and emotion in Tom’s heartfelt piano work. He mentioned earlier how he had poured his feelings into the music during a difficult time and it certainly shows.


While Tom Eaton has been creating quite a name for himself as an engineer, producer, and multi-instrumental accompanist, this new release firmly establishes him as a composer and recording artist of note in the new age genre. In addition, his work as an arranger is superb and his choice of electronic sounds and the way they are placed in the mix is among the finest that I’ve heard. I don’t know if I’ve adequately expressed how impressed I am with this album, but I hope I have, and that it will inspire readers to seek out this remarkable and rewarding listening experience.



(On another note, stay tuned for an upcoming feature article on Days of Green and Light – Tom’s recently released compilation of ten electronic music tracks that he recorded in the early 1990’s, which are reminiscent of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and Jean Michel Jarre.)



Click on the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album:



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