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EDENSONG The Fruit Fallen (2009)


This debut album from Edensong is really the work and brainchild of one James Byron Schoen. The project was germinated at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 2003 when Schoen received funding for a 'pseudo rock-opera', out of which developed 'The Fruit Fallen'.

It's really a good old traditional prog album taking the Fall of Man as a starting point rather than a concept. The eight tracks run the whole gamut of prog influences and will be a delight to any self-respecting hairy who recalls 'Topographic' Yes or 'Selling England' Genesis.

Schoen wears these influences on his sleeve but that is not to say 'Fruit Fallen' is totally derivative. It's an attractive mix of prog, folk and classical influences, the result highly listenable. The longest piece 'The Reunion', a respectable 21:43, reveals that Gentle Giant as well as Tull were in his Dad's record collection.


James Byron Schoen on "The Fruit Fallen"

What inspired you to create "The Fruit Fallen" and the overall concept?

I wouldn't consider 'The Fruit Fallen' to be a true concept album, though I tend to think of everything that I write in conceptual terms. A primary goal of mine was to make an album that was both experimental and challenging for me as a songwriter.

I wanted to play around with all sorts of instrumentation and timbres that one would not usually hear on a rock album by incorporating some classical orchestration and also experimenting with percussion alternatives to the drumset.

I wrote the majority of the material while I was at college and I really tried to take advantage of the musical variety available to me at the time. Where else, outside of an academic setting, would I have had such immediate access to classical players, Indian and African Percussion, Church Organ and more?

So in many ways, I suppose it was this eclectic musical environment that really shaped and inspired the album.

Lyrically, there is no overarching concept, though there are some basic subjects that come up in multiple songs; for example, a few of the songs center around the concept of death.

Additionally, as you may have noticed, I tend to use occasional religious/biblical references, either when speaking directly of religion (as in 'The Sixth Day') or metaphorically to describe something entirely different (as in 'The Baptism').

I suppose that the band name and album title are both biblical references as well. This fascination with religion really has no bearing on my own personal faith, but instead, I'm drawn to religious concepts as vehicles for my songwriting.

Who are your greatest influences musically and is prog rock your preferred genre?

My musical influences are really over the map. Among my earliest influences were artists like the Beatles and Billy Joel; my parents used to play this music around the house and in the car.

Perhaps surprisingly, I was also a huge Michael Jackson fan as a child, and he may have been the initial reason I wanted to be a musician. I listened to a lot of alternative rock in the early nineties (who didn't?), and by middle school, I had discovered metal bands like Metallica and Megadeth and eventually, more progressive bands like Rush and Dream Theater.

It was also around this time that I began to dig through my dad's old record collection and discovered progressive rock staples like Yes and Jethro Tull. For me, this music always had a special magic that I couldn't find elsewhere.

Later on in high school and college, I developed a love for the folkier music of acts like Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. I also listen to quite a bit of classical music, favoring an equally wide range from the often simple beauty of Chopin to the epic symphonies of Mahler.

I've spent my whole life absorbing music, both actively, by analyzing Dream Theater songs, for example, and passively, through other activities, like the video games I played as a child (some of those games have such memorable music!).

Though I hate to slap a label on my musical taste, I suppose I've always been most attached to music that is considered 'progressive rock,' whether it's Genesis or The Mars Volta. I certainly feel most comfortable when I'm writing within a progressive framework; It opens up a lot doors for me creatively. As for modern music, I tend to prefer that which stretches the boundaries of the genre and sounds truly fresh to a watered down rehashing of the great prog bands of the 70; where's the 'progress' in that?

Have you played any gigs to support the album, and are there any plans for more gigs this year?

The last show that Edensong played was in December 2006, considerably before the release of 'The Fruit Fallen.' Since 'The Fruit Fallen' was released in July 2008, the Edensong lineup has changed completely.

I'm thrilled with this new lineup of extremely dedicated, proficient and creative musicians and we've been hard at work rehearsing and revamping the songs for the stage; I can honestly say that it's all sounding better than it ever has before.

We have some local New York area shows scheduled for the spring and summer, but we're most excited for our performance at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Progressive Rock Festival in August (

It will be a true honor to share the stage with groups like King's X, Phideaux and Glass Hammer. The new and improved Edensong is very open to the prospect of frequent gigging and touring, so we'll probably have some plans in the works before too long! We would love to make it over to Europe in the not-too-distant future.

© April 2009 David Randall/GRTR!

'Water Run' is lifted by flute, violin and funky guitars, the style a blend of Caravan and Neil Morse, similarly on 'The Prayer'. Flute again (Eve Harrison) leads 'The Baptism' with acoustic guitars to the fore giving way to a grungey guitar section. 'Reflection' has fine a vocal performance (from Schoen) that brings to mind the best of Spock's Beard.

Throughout, the production values are high and 'The Sixth Day' is another great example of the meld of acoustic and electric guitars and flute - there's even a Hammond organ to add retro credibility.

Yes, the prog scene is littered with well-established bands who take their cue from Genesis or early Marillion or early Dream Theater and sometimes they are let down by idiosyncratic vocals you either love or hate.

But it's the lack of vocal irritation, and the seamless blend of trad and new prog that is the great achievement of 'Fruit Fallen'. Schoen has now assembled a new band around him and plays a Pittsburgh rock festival in August 2009. Europe beckons, or at least we hope so. ****½

Review by David Randall

GRTR! Recommended

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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