Peter Gabriel - i/o
More than 20 years in the making, this December finally sees the release of i/o, Peter Gabriel’s first album of new material since 2002’s Up. During 2023, Peter has been releasing a new song from the album on the occasion of every full moon. Being revealed roughly every four weeks, each track has been allowed to find its own time and space, to enjoy its own orbit. “It’s a little like getting a Lego piece each month,” Peter explains. Now it’s time to stand back and admire the final, completed creation. And what a creation – 12 tracks of grace, gravity and great beauty that provide welcome confirmation of not only Peter’s ongoing ability to write stop-you-in-your-tracks songs but also of that thrilling voice, still perfectly, delightfully intact. Throughout the album the intelligent and thoughtful – often thought-provoking – songs tackle life and the universe. Our connection to the world around us – ‘I’m just a part of everything’ Peter sings on title track i/o – is a recurring motif, but so too the passing of time, mortality and grief, alongside such themes as injustice, surveillance and the roots of terrorism. But this is not a solemn record. While reflective, the mood is never despondent; i/o is musically adventurous, often joyous and ultimately full of hope, topped off as it is, by the rousingly optimistic closing song, Live and Let Live.
Always looking to push the boundaries, i/o is not simply a collection of a dozen songs. All 12 tracks are subject to two stereo mixes: the Bright-Side Mix, handled by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, and the Dark-Side Mix, as reshaped by Tchad Blake. “We have two of the greatest mixers in the world in Tchad and Spike and they definitely bring different characters to the songs. Tchad is very much a sculptor building a journey with sound and drama, Spike loves sound and assembling these pictures, so he’s more of a painter.” Both versions are included on the double-CD package, and are also available separately as double vinyl albums. And that’s not all. A third version – the In-Side Mix, in Dolby Atmos, comes courtesy of Hans-Martin Buff “doing a wonderful job generating these much more three- dimensional mixes” and is included in three-disc set, including Blu-ray.
Peter has kept his trusty inner circle of musicians close to hand, which means guitarist David Rhodes, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Manu Katché are sterling presences throughout. Several songs bear the fingerprints of long-time associate Brian Eno, whilst there are notable contributions from the likes of Richard Russell, pianist Tom Cawley, trumpeters Josh Shpak and Paolo Fresu, cellist Linnea Olsson and keyboard player Don E. Peter’s daughter Melanie contributes warm backing vocals, as does Ríoghnach Connolly of The Breath. Soweto Gospel Choir and Swedish all-male choir Oprhei Drängar lend their magnificent harmonies and the mass strings of the New Blood Orchestra, led by John Metcalfe, both soothe and soar. Peter has also invited a range of visual artists to contribute a piece of art to accompany each track. The dozen artists make an exceedingly impressive team of collaborators: Ai Weiwei, Nick Cave, Olafur Eliasson, Henry Hudson, Annette Messager, Antony Micallef, David Moreno, Cornelia Parker, Megan Rooney, Tim Shaw, David Spriggs and Barthélémy Toguo. Having handpicked the artists, Peter recognises that “They have the same obsessive attention to their visual work that we musicians have in sound.”
Release Date: 1st December 2023
Label: Real World
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