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Peter Gabriel - Passion CD (album) cover

PASSION

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

4.11 | 290 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars What Mr. Gabriel has done with Passion is truly amazing--although I have no interest in ever seeing the movie Passion was written for, I find this soundtrack no less mesmerising for it. Passion stands on its own as a richly-textured album, moodily evocative of the world of the Middle East and North Africa. In particular I must give credit for the intricate percussive rhythms--while in places this is an extremely melodic album, it is really the rhythm that most distinguishes it. This album, while I rank it a 4.5, is a masterful must-have for anyone with an interest in Peter Gabriel or traditional Middle Eastern music. I'm not the only one who thinks so...Richard Wright of Pink Floyd even named this album in his top 10 in a 1996 issue of Record Collector!

Equally important as the rhythm is the excellent vocals, particularly the Arab-styled ones. This is a very free, melodic, and very haunting mode of singing, particularly to the Western ear, which aside from perhaps a bit of exposure to blues and gospel, is generally not used to the freedoms taken with pitch in Middle Eastern singing. What may at first seem dissonant, jarring, or even undisciplined is in fact very precisely controlled--as it must be when one has more than 12 notes to choose from. Peter Gabriel himself is able to conform somewhat to this style, but easily the most impressive vocal performance belongs to the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His aching, anguished, yet still melodic cries of pain dominate the title track "Passion". This track, I believe, is intended to evoke the passion--that is, the suffering--of Christ, and while I don't actually know its placement in the movie, that's what comes to mind. This is the sound of the deepest grief and isolation--"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" one might imagine. A boy soprano contrasts marvelously with Khan.

Some of the other highlights include "In Doubt"/"A Different Drum", "Of These, Hope", "Sandstorm", "Disturbed", and "With This Love (Choir)". Particularly clever about that first set is the sudden change of mood in "A Different Drum", which starts off dark and brooding, and then explodes into exultant joy. "Disturbed" offers some interesting rhythm work, aided by the (back then) top-of-the-line Fairlight. "Sandstorm" is a particularly dissonant, unnerving use of a group chant (neither term meant negatively, rather the opposite!). The choir version of "With This Love" is a more graceful, meditative piece also worthy of note.

However, speaking of "With This Love", this otherwise fantastic album does have two weak points that lose it half a star. The first is the steamy, overly Western-sounding first version of "With This Love". Even without the distasteful associations I imagine this likely came with in the movie, this track is in my opinion way out of step musically from the rest of the album. As the second version shows, it is actually a good tune--it's the arrangement I find offputting, hence my almost always skipping this track (I never award a full 5-star rating to any album where I must skip a whole track). My other criticism is the sound production, which despite it being a strong effort for its time period, does sound dry and dated in a few places (notably "Gethsemane", and the rather murkily mixed "Of These, Hope"). Certainly no track is at all rendered unlistenable by this, but it is in my opinion an issue.

Overall, Passion is well worth the listener's time, and if you don't have it, don't hesitate- -pick up a copy now! And if my recommendation isn't enough, listen to Rick Wright; I think he knows what he's talking about!

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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