Live albums have been a staple of late night spins since the dawn of the bean bag chair. Basements across the globe set up with decent hi-fi stereos, Hendrix wall tapestries, and a mellow haze in the air have welcomed sleepy-eyed listeners in their warm yet dank embrace. Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokon, KISS’ Alive, Priest’s Live In Japan, and yes, even Frampton Comes Alive were like being at those stadiums with like-minded fans.
As the years went on and the truth about some of those classic live records came out(that they weren’t nearly as “live” as they seemed) I personally lost interest. I’ll go to the show, I don’t need a reality TV version put to vinyl for me. But in the 2000s I started finding some actual live records again and they were pretty phenomenal. First was Wilco’s Kicking Television: Live In Chicago. Then Built To Spill’s Live. Of course Hendrix has a treasure trove of live releases worth your time, money, and ears(Band Of Gypsies, Live at Woodstock, Live In Maui for examples.) Then you hit up the Roadburn sets; Earthless, Godflesh, White Hills, etc…)
My point? The live album is back in a big way.
El Paraiso Records has been a big proponent of putting out quality live albums since the beginning. Causa Sui’s Live At Freak Valley and Live In Copenhagen are monumetal live recordings. Papir’s Live At Roadburn is another standout live recording of a band at their peak powers. Mythic Sunship’s Changing Shapes : Live At Roadburn is basement-worthy friends.
Edena Gardens’ Live Momentum can be added to this list.
Edena Gardens debuted with their self-titled album last year on El Paraiso Records, but they are anything but “new”. Comprised of El Paraiso luminaries Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt(Causa Sui, Sun River) and Papir guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, Edena Gardens makes slow-building instrumentmal music in organic, earthy tones. Touches of post-rock and prog rock are there, but also a kind of doom-laden blues that borders of 70s jazz improvisation. It’s a striking balance between contructed chaos and post-apocalyptic blues.
Edena Gardens’ Live Momentum is the three-piece raw, improvisational, and just letting the vibes flow through them. Recorded at the Jaiyede Music Festival in 2022, the album is comprised of three tracks. Side one is comprised of two tracks, one from the bands debut and one from their upcoming follow-up Agar, while side two is an album side track that takes flight into the cosmos. A wholly-trinity of live jams and visceral delights.
So do you wait and check out the band’s new upcoming full-length Agar, or do you deep dive into Edena Gardens blowing minds live on the stage of the Jaiyede Festival? Well, lucky for you there is no wrong answer. But for the sake of argument let’s go with Live Momentum first. That way you have a good idea of what these cats can do with a couple amps, guitars, and drums in front of a live audience. Then you jump into Agar and see what voodoo they do in the studio.
Live Momentum opens with the doom-heavy, slow-churning “Veil”, which is on the new long player Agar. In a live setting the band lets loose with fiery feedback, drums that slink along like a death march, and psychedelic ebbs and flows with echoing guitar riffs. There’s even counterpoint guitar lines that accent the dreamy-psychedelic swirls. Subtle changes in the rhythm to an almost swing groove only adds to the dizzying ride.
We then slide into “Now Here Nowhere” from their debut album. The rhythm section resembles Sabbath, as they were known to get pretty damn groovy when they wanted to. Edena Gardens swings fine here, with Sorensen laying down some particulary tasteful guitar over Skøtt and Rude’s Garrison/Jones vibes.
Side B is dedicated to the epic improvisation “Live Momentum”, an epic 17-minute barnburner. Edena Gardens has proven a band that is no hurry getting to the destination, as the journey is always more fun. Touching Band of Gypsies vibes here, the band lays down a bluesy groove at the beginning complete with wah wah guitar and a sleazy groove to boot. At the 6:30 mark the song switches gears into a swirl of chaos and avante garde noise, as if we’re being pulled into a black hole. We return in an intense build that’s more like Sonic Youth than Sabbath. This is pure cacophony and sonic annihilation at its finest.
Live Momentum should be added to the list of live albums you need in your collection and life. You can hock the KISS Alive, Live At Budokon, and yes, Frampton Comes Alive. Label-concocted live experiences that aren’t really live. You want the real live experience? Look no further than El Paraiso Records library, and in-particular Edena Gardens’ Live Momentum.
Out April 7th on El Paraiso Records. Preorder here.