Peter Gabriel - I/O (2023)


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Dec 1, 2023
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[Excerpt below - continue reading at my Medium page!]

Peter Gabriel’s first album of original material in over 20 years is a true multimedia — perhaps panmedia — production. The body of work includes 12 tracks — released, naturally, throughout the year on each full moon. All 12 have two separate mixes, “Bright” and “Dark,” and cover art commissioned by artists across the globe. i/o is also a tour, a set of music videos, and a YouTube series where Gabriel explores the inspiration and recording process behind each song. A podcast and Netflix show are presumably lying in wait.

With such a bounty, Gabriel appears hellbent on ensuring his latest message is clear and complete. His timing is apt; given his prolonged absence since 2002’s Up, it’s fair to wonder if i/o may be the 73-year-old Gabriel’s swan song. i/o sees Gabriel reflecting on mortality and finding solace in connection to the natural world, urging us to seek such connection through love for life.

Gabriel has been a maximalist, visually-inclined artist for decades. This is a man who found even the vast boundaries of Collins & company’s prog-rock escapades too restrictive, leaving Genesis in 1975 for a solo career. In this way, Gabriel’s artistry has resembled that of his venerated peer, David Bowie. Each produced classic ’70s records while straddling the line between pop and experimentation. Each developed a singular, ineffable sound and a reputation for onstage visual spectacle. Each retained their critical cred with a penchant for anti-mainstream weirdness — Exhibit A, Gabriel’s first four albums being titled, simply, Peter Gabriel. And in the mid-‘80s, the pair finally took their superstar turns with Let’s Dance and So.

It’s therefore fitting that i/o carries the spirit of Bowie’s own swan song, 2016’s Blackstar. Mortality echoes through soft ballads like “Playing for Time” or “And Still,” the latter written for Gabriel’s deceased mother. The plaintive “So Much” sees an aging man accepting that he hasn’t got enough time to do all he wishes, much like Bowie’s plea in “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

But while the Bowie of Blackstar could be anguished and forlorn, i/o is an album of hope. The title track is a celebration of life and nature, encapsulated in the fist-pumping chorus: “I’m just a part of everything,” Gabriel proclaims. He eschews division in a world of inputs and outputs, of constant transformation — darkness into light, death into life. It’s a song about tangible earth, from whistling birds to buzzing bees, but its essence is a hymn.

Gabriel, long troubled by otherism (“Not One of Us”) and marginalization (“San Jacinto”), finds peace — even joy — from such interconnectivity in his golden years. The most urgent, uptempo tracks on i/o are reserved for these moments of euphoric telepathy with the universe. On “The Court,” he sees human justice as a proxy for the natural force of bringing order to chaos. “Road to Joy,” the album’s preeminent head-bopper, sees a man rescued from darkness by synergy with the life around him. “Olive Tree” conjures images of motion and rebirth: “New life weaves its way out through the coil / Nothing’s gonna hold this movement down.” He exemplifies this reinvention by interpolating his own “and it’s…” lead-in to the chorus, sung to the same cadence and tune as in “Supper’s Ready,” the 1972 magnum opus from his long-lost group.

[Continue reading here]

Nai Noswad

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2019
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The lands of Marshall Stack.
It's brilliant and does remind me of Bowie.. (He was the master) - Ashes To Ashes containing past songs.. .. I wonder if Gabriel adopted the writing of lyrics, tearing them up and then randomly sticking them together as he picked the fragments from the floor?
I thoroughly enjoy it... and it's a finger up to that king of misery Tony Banks.

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