Thomas William Hill – Asylum For Eve

A piano opens ‘Asylum For Eve’, and that’s appropriate, because, like Eve, the piano is the first instrument, radiating light and life to predestined sounds even before they’re born. She is the dominant instrument, and she populates the music. Its rapid opening is like a fountain, shooting notes left, right and centre. That doesn’t last for long, though, because, much like The Fall in the Book of Genesis, it soon finds itself entrenched in the deep valleys of sin, deprived of its fruit-eating and law-breaking cravings. Thin strands glue themselves together, coming to form something which is incredibly stable and yet permanently transient; a fragile melody emerges. In the beginning, the notes of ‘Porpita Porpita’ stagger over the spine of the music, shaking like cars on a bumpy road, before eventually settling and developing.

This is Day One; fresh out of the oven, its unblemished, flushed and silken skin sparkling with the promise of new life. Soon, other instruments begin to emerge, but an urgency lives between them and the piano. While the piano’s chords calm and reassure, the strings quiver in child-like bursts of energy. The neoclassical approach often births deeply cinematic music, and while that’s the case here, Asylum For Eve is nevertheless surprisingly soft and understanding – sensitive, even – as Thomas William Hill both divides and connects. The strings may be frantic, but the piano is a bedrock of placidity.

Asylum For Eve is ‘a hypothetical imagining of Mitochondrial Eve, the theorised matrilineal ancestor of all living humans, reincarnated in today’s world of restricted movement’. It’s more of a biological study than it is a concept album, an autopsy of ‘what-ifs’ rather than a concrete conversation. The inner structures are strict, but that doesn’t mean they’re bone-rigid. Restrictions have been placed on the notes, but they’re still able to jostle for space. All of the instruments have their own place: the Bechstein Model 9 upright piano, bowed guitars, ukuleles, finger-plucked violins and the banjo, but the piano walks in front, taking the lead. She is the mother of them all. In the eyes of the other instruments, she is no less than their God.

The strings bow down in an act of reverence for the life, the being, of this woman. She is the chosen one, the first page in our speck of history. They rejoice in her breath.

The strands of DNA stem from one woman – the mother of us all – and they line up one after another, like a cryptic series of notes hanging on a stave. So too does the music begin with just a single, lonely note.

The music ages as it makes progress. Edgy strings join in on a rambling chorus so ancient no date has ever been assigned to it, and as it ages it grows psychotic, warped by centuries, only to be resurrected three days (well, seconds) later. Music reinvigorates, reforms and ultimately reincarnates. It’s a timeline – our timeline – that began with Eve and walked through the ages, to you, me, the new generation and those yet to enter the scene; yesterday’s sunset to tomorrow’s dawn.

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