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Marillion - Marbles CD (album) cover





4.09 | 1079 ratings

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Ray Stokes
5 stars Damn if this isn't prog then I don't want to be right!

I've been sitting on this album for a few months and every time I turn it on it locks me down. I'm nearly left incapacitated by the emotions pouring out of every track every time I listen to Marbles. Hogarth has such a sad straining voice that punches the lyrics straight through. From yelling "I'm perfectly sane" in "The Invisible Man", to crying out "I never land / in Neverland" in the closer "Neverland" Hogarth is relentless. And it is not only the singing, but the song writing here is impeccable. The Only Unforgivable Thing is an excellent example:

"The only unforgivable thing / Waits for me in the corner of the room / Laughs as I clean my teeth / Laughs as I rub at my eyes"

Every time I hear this verse my skin crawls.

Without going into every song and writing until dawn breaks I'm going to hop right into "Ocean Cloud". If I could only listen to 10 songs for the rest of my life, this would definitely be on the list. What the other songs on the list are, I have no idea, but there is no way I could live without this one.

There is a wonderful video on youtube where Hogarth talks about this song. This song is dedicated to an Ocean Rower named Don Allum who rowed the Atlantic ocean twice. On his second trip across, starting from Newfoundland and ending in Ireland, his boat got wrecked from a terrible storm and he barely made it back. He died a few months after he arrived because of the fish blood and salt water he had to eat to survive.

What makes this song so great is how the music complements the idea of the song. It is a perfect combination of music and song that create something bigger than the parts themselves. There are sounds of seagulls and crashing waves interspersed throughout the track that emulate loneliness and the serenity that can be a result of being alone. The ocean is a place where "there's no one to tell / And no one who doesn't listen".

The track builds from a low rumble to a roaring storm when Hogarth is yelling "Only me and the sea / We will do as we please." The cymbals sound like waves crashing against a boat and the bass and guitar sound like thunder and lightning smashing the hull. Every time I hear this it feels as if the walls are caving in. From here we're then treated to the calm after the storm. Light smacking waves drown out the sound of a radio reporting Don Allum's second journey, the one of which led to his death. From here there is an abrupt transition which details the torment of life, which then leads to the final act of the song: removal from everything you were. Hogarth screaming "When I was alive / Don't want to remember / When I was alive" is something that is so chilling it can't be described.

This song is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

From reading other reviews of this album it seems that the tracks Marbles I-IV are not given much credit. These tracks are my second favorite thing about the album, of course behind "Ocean Cloud". Sure, these are short tracks without much instrumentation, but they narrate the album so perfectly. They define the pace of the album as they are evenly placed throughout, and they tie in the two discs perfectly to create an overall coherence. The four acts depict the loss of innocence and purity, and the loneliness and helplessness that results. This theme is an important part of the album, as it runs through virtually every song. Truly brilliant!

Another thing that I noticed from the reviews is that some people are down rating this album because it isn't "progressive". Sure, there are very few solos throughout the album, and there are also not many instrumental sections either, but does that necessarily make for a worse album? Music doesn't have to be complicated in order to be good. In fact, most of these songs sound simple on the surface, but have heavy themes that run deep underneath. Doesn't this in turn make the music complicated, thus making it "progressive"? I might be misunderstanding the definition of "progressive", but everyone seems to know what it is when they hear it. I don't really know what it means. All I know is that I enjoy a lot of music that is labeled progressive, and that is enough for me. Whether a band/album/song is defined as "Neo-prog", "Indie", "Industrial", "Classical", or whatever else I could care less. If it feels like the artist is trying to show a part of themselves or relay an emotion, then isn't that enough? That is all I ask for.

Ray Stokes | 5/5 |


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