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The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet? CD (album) cover

HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET?

The Gathering

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.90 | 122 ratings

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Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The Gathering had their act together at the end of the 90's. How To Measure is the third spectacular album in a row and there was even more to come on the next one.

Frailty continues where the most daring experimentations of Nighttime Birds had stopped. It's like Radiohead's laidback style but fronted with a female vocalist. Anneke Van Giersbergen, who matches Yorke in all his emotive power, surpasses him in cuteness and melodious skill. The music is minimalist, a slow pulse on kick and snare and an echoed guitar loop is all that she needs to evoke a flow of sweet melancholy. If anyone thought the Gathering had still anything ado with metal, rest assured, this is Cocteau Twins meeting Portishead. No trace of anything metal in sight. Great Ocean Road is heavier but not in a metallic way, more like noisy spacerock. Van Giersbergen lays down another startling vocal here. Another highlight early in the album is the sweeping Liberty Bell, a chunk of uplifting modern space-rock.

The style of the Gathering has evolved into a very personal sort of trip-hop meets space-rock, call it trip-rock or space-hop if you like. A fine example is the slow groove of Marooned, the pulse can easily be traced back to Tricky and Massive Attack, but if you listen carefully, it all goes back too the pioneering drum work of Can's Jack Liebezeit really. The Can is everywhere! The song features some mellotron and xylophones, making me wonder if they had the guys from Anekdoten over for a jam here?

The album clocks off at a dazzling 103 minutes. It must be noted that the last half hour is a post-rock noise bit that I've never managed to sit through. But even the remaining 75 minutes have the doubtful honour to be too much really. This album is another example of a potential 50 minute 5 star album that is blown out of proportion by its overindulgent length. It makes good songs with slightly less appealing vocals such as Rescue Me into songs that I have to skip in order to sit through the entire album. To continue my stream of critical consciousness, also Red Is A Slow Color and the first half of Travel suffer from droning vocal lines that sound too similar to everything else around it. Travel builds up quite dramatically though, watch out for that second half!

I must be in a bad mood really, wasting an entire paragraph on a few weaker spots on this remarkable album. More positive-minded people would probably consider this as having 2 albums for the price of one. I guess I'd better find me another album to be grumpy at! This one is a stunning piece; if it's too much to handle for me then that is my loss really. 4.5 stars.

Bonnek | 4/5 |

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