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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (3 -

PETER GABRIEL (3 - "MELT")

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

4.21 | 605 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

UltimaPrime
5 stars Have you ever listened to an album and suddenly been hit by a strange sense of nostalgia? It's almost as though you're overwhelmed with this funny feeling that you were first in line when the album hit the market?or right there, with the band members, during the drama bleeding from the nine-month series of unproductive recording sessions?or nonchalantly playing an eight-track version of the album on your truck's then-new eight-track player, during some epic, cross-country road trip?or whatever. I'm sure everybody reading this has experienced it. It's this profoundness that sort of imbibes you with a feeling that the album you're listening to has a timelessness that's bigger and badder than you, or any person listening, for that matter. If you're not picking up on my descriptive vocabulary like I hope you would, I guarantee you ? if you've ever listened (not heard, LISTENED) to the Beatles, you've surely experienced this sort of feeling. However, this isn't about the Beatles (and may not ever be ? reviewing the Beatles would poop me out)?it's about somebody long since forgotten about in the mainstream; somebody who was instrumental in the development of modern music in ways most people don't realize: Peter Gabriel, or rather his third, untitled album ? I'll just call it Melt.

What's so alluring about this album that warrants all the fun descriptiveness and such? Several things, really.

If there were one aspect of this album that I think should spark some curiosity, it would have to be this: it was the very first album to be recorded entirely with digital technology. Yes, folks, Petey was the first to tread the waters of modern technology?and MAN, does he succeed. One would expect some sloppiness in the production because of how relatively new all that crap was, but that couldn't be farther from the truth - Steve Lilywhite, the producer, knew what he was working with from the very beginning. The production, in general, was very unusual for its time ? the drums were entirely without cymbals, the sound has a huge emphasis on the middle-upper register of sound (which gives it a cold, metallic feeling), and everything has a "mashed potatoes" sort of feeling; most of the instruments and sounds are blended together?and what does musical "mashed potatoes" sound like? Chaos. But even with this revolution in sound, the album still sounds rather dated?but that's a given, due to the embryonic state digital technology was still in.

With that, the album is dark ? VERY dark. Not only is it dark in terms of lyrical content, but also in the songwriting, production, instrumentation, and arrangement. After leaving Genesis and stumbling to find his identity with his first two solo albums (which will be reviewed eventually, once I pick up copies of both and listen to them again), it was his third album where he finally found his footing. Let it be known right now - the results were not cheerful. Every thread of this album sounds dark, cold, and depressing. Leading off with the menacing Intruder (which is literally about an intruder who knows every which way to break into somebody's home, and its aggressive, pounding drum beat (courtesy of Phil Collins), it becomes immediately certain that we're probably not gonna come out of this one with an outlook on life having to do with puppy dogs and ice cream. This is not a world where happy roams free. I think you get the message.

As for the music itself: if you were expecting it to be extremely dark and menacing, to a threshold of where it becomes too harsh and unlistenable, this is hardly the case ? this album is beautiful. But how can something so dark and gritty-sounding be so beautiful? Peter Gabriel approached it in a way that somehow made the sheer darkness not only listenable, but also very, very accessible. The melodies are catchy, the rhythms are infectious, the musicianship is outstanding, and the lyrical delivery is irresistible. The album is very moody, but not in the sense of it sounding blue- and red- and yellow- and black- and white, over the course of the album, but rather it warps through different shades of black and grey. Every song on here is dark, but Peter presents the music in a way that plays more on the emotions felt from all of these somber situations. We jump all over the emotional smorgasbord, from the ominous "Intruder," to the schizophrenic "No Self Control," to the gritty angst of "I Don't Remember," to the melancholic sadness of "Family Snapshot," to the longing "And Through The Wire," to the playful irony of "Games Without Frontiers," to the disassociated "Not One Of Us," to the self-reflecting "Lead A Normal Life," and finally to the grandiose, world music-influenced march of "Biko" (which acts as an emotional reaction to a man being assassinated). Peter Gabriel has always been known for his intense emotional range, but here he manages to keep it within pretty solid boundaries; the whole album seems to have a purpose and a goal: to illustrate what a person feels in a darkened state of consciousness, in all sorts of different scenarios.

I'll refrain from going into the music in too great of detail ? I think it's meant to be heard to be fully understood, as with any piece of music. This album can easily win as Peter Gabriel's most defining moment, in his 30-plus year solo career. Neither before nor after did he ever manage to pack such an emotional punch that managed to keep such a tight amount of focus. The sound, like I said, is rather dated, but in a way that provides a certain sense of nostalgia of the glorious beginning of digital technology, and the many, many 80's clichés that this album helped create. The dated feeling slightly harms the final product in ways that prevent it from being an ABSOLUTE masterpiece, but not by much.

Take it from me: this is THE definitive Peter Gabriel moment, as far as his solo career is concerned. While it may not be quite as catchy as what came after it, it's still incredibly enjoyable. Give it a listen and decide for yourself whether or not it's all hype.

UltimaPrime | 5/5 |

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