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Peter Gabriel - OVO CD (album) cover

OVO

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 155 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A cash guzzling white elephant. No, not the album.

OVO is not really a Peter Gabriel solo album, but more of a soundtrack with Peter at the helm. The project was kicked off in 1997, when Gabriel was invited to join in the creation of "a visual and musical experience for London's Millennium Dome". The dome itself was a cash guzzling white elephant, built as part of the millennium celebrations, but tucked away in a corner of the UK.

The concept is a variation on an oft used theme, looking at three generations of a family. These are not consecutive generations, the first is from he prehistoric era, the second from the industrial period (approximately now), and the third inevitably in the future. Confusingly, these generations live together, leading to conflicts in priorities and preferences. OVO is the youngest of the family, an infant born into the enigmatic world of his parents and grandparents.

So much for the concept, what of the music? Right from the start it is clear that "OVO" leans heavily on the "Real World" sounds which Gabriel has investigated and nurtured for many years. A glance at the line up reveals renown musicians such as Ravi Shankar, Tony Levin, and Richie Havens all contribute to the diverse sounds on which the album is built. Anyone who is not familiar with the wonderful voice of Richie Havens should hear his performance on this album, he has one of the finest voices in modern music.

There really is something for everyone here. One minute we are being uplifted by a Celtic reel ("The weaver's reel"), the next we have a delicate Gabriel vocal ("Father son"), and no sooner is that finished but we have a "Sledgehammer" type piece of heavy rock ("The tower that ate people").

Elsewhere, ethnic rhythms come to the fore, including didgeridoos and Dhol drums. Several of the tracks are instrumentals of various styles. "White ashes" has a curious mix of African type rhythms and mumbled vocalising, with synthesiser effects drifting in and out. Elizabeth Fraser's vocals on "Downside up" are striking and melodic, the song having more than a passing similarity to "Don't give up" (the titles even sound the same). The song plays out with some fine orchestration, the rhythm section behind it being recorded by top producer Danny Lanois. The album closes with one of Gabriel's longest songs ever, "Make tomorrow". The piece brings together many of the musicians who have graced previous tracks in a slightly understated but highly effective finale.

For what is essentially a soundtrack, "OVO" is a very strong album. I actually find myself preferring this to some of Gabriel's official solo releases. The enormous diversity of the music, the engaging of top musicians, and the strength of the compositions combine to result in a fine album which will be around far longer than the Millennium Dome!

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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