Having started out with the new romantics, by the end of the 1980s Talk Talk had grown into something startlingly different. Gradually self-deconstructing, the band completed their transition from synth and new wave to jazz-influenced minimalism, while practically inventing post-rock in the process.
The success of The Colour Of Spring in 1986 persuaded EMI to give up any control over Talk Talk’s next album. With time and money no object, singer Mark Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene indulged their inspirational and creative muse, spending the best part of a year in the studio working on sketches, fragments, and moods. The result was the moody and atmospheric Spirit of Eden, an album far removed from early Talk Talk singles like Mirror Man and Today. Out of step with anything else at the time, the album was not a great success, which only served to send Holliss deeper into the recording abyss for the follow-up, and Talk Talk’s final album, Laughing Stock, the studio sessions for which have passed into rock myth, driven by Holliss’ ever more demanding perfectionism.
Seen through the lens of nearly a quarter century, both albums stand out as widely ranging influencers: of post-rock/ambient bands like Sigur Ros, the dynamic studio range of Elbow, and shoegazers Slowdive, whose own album trajectory followed a similar path towards their gentle goodbye album Pygmalion, most notably on the ten-minute opening track Rutti.