Giants of symphonic progressive rock Winter In Eden are back with their 4th album - their first in 8 years! Progsheet asked frontwoman Vicky Johnson to take us through the album track-by-track and she most graciously obliged...
Track 1: Social Fake
VJ: �Fakeness� (as I like to call it) is all around. From social media personal accounts selectively portraying only the �good bits�, to deep fakes and biased news� the list goes on. Social Fake is an interpretation of the modern-day caricature of life. This song is specifically about an individual that portrays themselves as something they are not. Seemingly perfect but being rotten to the core. We felt it only fitting to continue the theme with the tongue-in-cheek music video (particularly at the very end which was an absolute hoot to film).
Track 2: Never Let Go
VJ: I wrote the lyrics for this song for my children. It is about pure unconditional love and therefore portrays the complete opposite to a Social Fake and the acceptance of an individual no matter what. I was very keen for the kids to have something when I am not there to hopefully take some comfort from. Almost like a hug in a song.
Track 3: Out of Touch
VJ: We wanted to involve a local drama group in the making of the album. We had the idea of a child�s choir but didn�t want an angelic sound, more like the feel in Pink Floyd�s Another Brick in the Wall. With this song, we felt the melody was strong and anthemic in nature so it would be perfect for the children�s voices and add another texture to the song.
Track 4: Critical Mass - Dear Diary
VJ: We already had Part One of Critical Mass on the previous album but we wanted to give some hint as to the concept of Critical Mass and had to take a step back in time to provide some context. It is important to know that this was a secret that the man has kept since he was a child. The arrangement is meant to portray a burying of his regret and emotions from the past, a sort of self-imposed living purgatory. Using both a child and a man�s voice was very deliberate. The narration was by my son. He wasn�t very keen to record at first but we soon bribed him with a chocolate bar! The man�s voice was by Johanne James of Threshold and Kyrbgrinder. The song was not meant to be as eerie as it turned out to be. Within minutes of asking Johanne if he would record the part for us, he had sent it back to me having done a recording on his phone (as he didn�t have the recording facilities due to the Covid-19 lockdown at the time). We wanted to blend the voices and Steve had the idea to add some background ambience to take advantage of the grainy mobile recording. This gave the narration a completely different feel which I love.
Track 5: Critical Mass Part 2 - The Change
VJ:This part of Critical Mass starts to reveal the unravelling of the built-up tension and starts with a very sparse arrangement to a full-blown typical Winter In Eden song with numerous instruments and orchestration. We actually cut out a lot of the recorded guitars in the first verse to help build up the song a little more as well as adding to the drama and interest.
Track 6: Critical Mass Part 3 - Rage
VJ:As the final part of Critical Mass there needed to be vocal interaction to portray the deterioration in the relationship of the couple. From the outset, the song was always going to be a duet. Alex Cooper�s voice was perfect for this project to impart the raw emotion of the now adult having completely lost control to the fatal conclusion. I put down some guest vocals for Alex to copy but he had to sing it in a higher register as it was too low for him. It worked out perfectly and helped to add a different dimension to the song.
Track 7: Down
VJ: I usually always come up with a very melodic tune and wanted something rhythmic for this song. I didn�t want to try too hard and overcomplicate the lyrics either. I love the drive but felt that the end of the song wasn�t working to keep the momentum and that we needed to increase the tempo. We tried something with the drums but this didn�t work so I had the idea to sing twice as fast as I had previously on the last two choruses. It was a technique that I had never tried before in a Winter In Eden song.
Track 8: Blind Acceptance
VJ: Again, the theme of social media resurfaces with this song. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of personal details that people are prepared to share with the world. The need to give people information and to gain attention with some kind of reaction is becoming more apparent. The lyrics are about one member of a couple questioning the other about keeping their personal information private and how important that is. It is difficult to represent the intrusion of social media musically so Steve created the sound of a dial up modem (albeit outdated technology) which perfectly infers the role of the internet in what could be seen as a shift in the social norm.
Track 9: Smiling Assassin
VJ: Artistically, Smiling Assassin was one of the more difficult songs to produce. It had to have a more laid-back groove and less vocal harmony as the melody had to stand up for itself but still sound part of the album. The concept was about a woman who knew what she wanted and planned how to get without any thought for anyone else. The musical arrangement needed to embody the characteristics of the villain. The overall �feel� was inspired by music from the famous spy 007 franchise, not surprisingly its working title was Bond. We tried to achieve this by recording the violins using traditional style ribbon microphones and approach the mix with a sympathetic ear to the production of the traditional string sections of cinema. Out of interest, the violins were recorded by my childhood violin teacher!
Track 10: Exclusive Invitation
VJ: This song is about a complete fantasy world and the choir again help to emphasise the childhood theme as it is loosely based upon the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As the music was so uplifting and provides some escapism, we decided to place the song as the final track to conclude the album on a high.