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Genesis - Trespass CD (album) cover

TRESPASS

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.16 | 1596 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars After the quiet breeze there is a hailstorm of chaotic drums, a thunderclap of stormy distorted organ and soaring guitar solos, with an injection of venomous, sniping vocals.

"Trespass" is the first album from Genesis since they parted with Jonathan King and Decca labels to pursue a more distinct sound, that of the 'pastoral English idyll'. The album features some of the first use of Multi-tracked 12-string acoustic guitars that are blended with folky vocal harmonies, quiet flute, acoustic piano, and gentle keyboard pads on the Hammond and mellotron. It begins with an isolated secluded atmosphere in the form of 'Looking For Someone' that is certainly not a sound the band would return to on subsequent albums. The band were very unsure at times of their sound Anthony Phillips holds back on guitar preferring an acoustic approach, John Mayhew gently touched his drums, Peter Gabriel is quiet and calm, Mike Rutherford maintains simple basslines, Tony Banks prefers a subtle keyboard motif - all this of course is transformed into glorious prog chaos on the last track.

'White Mountain' is a Gabriel driven storytelling work with lyrics that would typify the Gabriel-era Genesis; "Thin hung the web like a trap in a cage, The fox lay asleep in his lair. Fangs frantic paws told the tale of his sin, Far off the chase shrieked revenge. Outcast he trespassed where no wolf may tread, The last sacred haunt of the dead. He learnt of a truth which only one wolf may know, The sceptre and crown of a king. Howling for blood, one-eye leads on the pack, Plunging through forest and snowstorm." Gabriel was perhaps inspired by Rudyard Kipling in this quirky tale of two wolves battling for a mystical crown. The music peaks at the end of each verse and slows into the pastoral English feel, Gabriel's voice is even fed through a machine echo effect at one point. The rhythm is maintained during the verse, with Gabriel part of the rhythm. The quieter moments of the song are characterised by flute and acoustic flourishes. The mellotron builds a cathedral atmosphere in the break. A wonderful song from the album characterising a new sound akin to Canterbury but still distinctive.

'Visions of Angels' is a softer track with some staccato moments and grinding organ and angel harmonies. The softer moments of the track are almost like a fairy tale and then there is a darker razor edge to the music with some ethereal piano and mellotron. The flute lends it's folky pastoral quality to the piece. Gabriel has a phased effect on his voice in one section, abut he is master of the storyteller style and once again he dominates the track: "Visions of angels all around, Dance in the sky, Leaving me here, Forever goodbye."

'Stagnation' is acoustically driven and has a soft Gabriel vocal and a lilting melody that goes nowhere and is a folk soaked passage of estranged lyrics and atmospherics. The guitar is well executed here picking style and a chiming keyboard adds a mystical quality with descending shapes and chilling notes pulled down the scale almost ghostly. The other worldly sound builds with an electrifying instrumental passage capitalising on organ and a quick tempo beat with basslines and drums adding the metrical pattern. The flute shines on this when Gabriel sings gently: "Wait, there still is time for washing in the pool, Wash away the past. Moon, my long-lost friend is smiling from above, Smiling at my tears. Come well walk the path to take us to my home, Keep outside the night. The ice-cold knife has come to decorate the dead, Somehow. And each will find a home, And there will still be time, For loving my friend, you are there..." It even sounds like The Moody Blues at one point. The rhythm builds again and Gabriel ad libs all sorts of nonsense to end this, "I want a drink, I want a drink, To wash out the filth that is deep in my guts, I want a drink." The flute returns over a clean guitar sound that has that distinct pastoral quality. Once again an underrated track from this horrendously underrated album.

'Dusk' is a very gentle calming track with some strange harmonies that remind me of early Pink Floyd or The Moody Blues. The lyrics are as whimsical as ever; "Once Jesus suffered, Heaven could not see him. And now my ship is sinking, The captain stands alone. A pawn on a chessboard, A false move by God will now destroy me, But wait, on the horizon, A new dawn seems to be rising, Never to recall this passerby, born to die."

There are bell chimes and a loaded flute that is played beautifully by Gabriel, adding a unique atmosphere, very tranquil and dreamy. The acoustic is once again a main factor and there are heavy crashes of piano. Not too bad but only a shadow of the next track which is a bonafide classic.

'The Knife' is a real fish out of water here, the most famous track on the album beginning with a staccato Hammond worthy of Emerson and in fact Keith was impressed with the sound and let the band know it. Gabriel was quite attracted with The Nice and the song 'Rondo' and in trying to capture this sound came up with a track that would typify the Genesis sound on their next album "Nursery Cryme". The Hammond and one note fuzz bass intro this excellent prog exploration.

The lyrics are a real point of interest and Gabriel frighteningly sneers his way through them with utter conviction; "Stand up and fight, for you know we are right, We will strike at the lies, That have spread like disease through our minds. Soon we'll have won and we'll treasure this worth, With our winnings and kindness To all who our love now deserve, Some of you are going to die, Martyrs, of course, to the freedom I will provide." The song's lyrics focus on Gabriel's reflections on violent revolutions, and the lyrics determine to explore how those who use violence all in the name of freedom are often the ones who actually establish their own dictatorship.

In the mid section the dark Hammond sound ceases and a bass booms with a violining guitar created by volume swells, and then a lilting haunting flute, subtle cymbal clangs on the ride cymbal and a beautiful keyboard pad providing a dark ambience. Then a fuzzed electric guitar is heard with Rutherford's fuzz bass, an off kilter chord structure, and phased vocals chant with a tape loop of screaming and voices, the birth pangs of prog are right here. The guitars have a chance to launch into flight with some of the best work from Anthony Phillips.

After you have been lulled to sleep by all the gentle pastoralness of the previous tracks with their one note bass passages and dreamscape instrumentals you are suddenly jolted back to life with 'The Knife'. After the quiet breeze there is a hailstorm of chaotic drums, a thunderclap of stormy distorted organ and soaring guitar solos, with an injection of venomous, sniping vocals. It is not for nothing that this song closed the Genesis set for years after and is the only track fans want to talk about from 'Trespass'. The song in fact trespasses across the green fields and sets fire to them. The firestorm is a mixture of chemicals fuelled by psychedelic guitar passages, crunching fuzz bass, and blazing Hammond.

The dynamic nuances are augmented by psychotic lyrics; "I'll give you the names of those you must kill, Then have all burned and quickly, Cover them up in Trafalgar square, Hurry to see, you'll see them dead In this ugly world, Ready to fight for your freedom, Now, when I give a word, Hang 'em on high, let the blood flow..." The disturbing lyrics are enhanced by massive stabs of Hammond and gut wrenching guitar riffs but the fuzz bass is so entrenched upon the sound that it is as heavy as the band would get. An absolute masterpiece of prog.

In conclusion it would be unrealistic that I rate this anything more than 3 stars as the greatness of Genesis was yet to come. But this is still a solid slice of early prog and 'The Knife' is an outstanding track, one of the essential blasts of creativity from the Gabriel era. The knife stabbed in the album cover signifies that the band are slicing their ties with commercialism and dragging across a blade to usher in a new progressive sound that would become symphonic prog. It is interesting to note that the album cover has a pastoral feel with religious overtones, a couple stare lovingly out the arch toward the distant horizon and a cupid creature dances merrily in the foreground, but the knife stabbed in the back gatefold is like the stab in the heart of the pastoral idyll, the way 'The Knife' stabs in at the end of the album, infiltrating the quiet atmosphere, almost tacked on as an afterthought is intriguing; it is one thing to swim against the flow but here the goldfish has jumped out of the bowl. Perhaps the band were experimenting, and trying to ascertain what would happen if they pulled out all the stops and attempted a 'Rondo'. The result was a success and opened the floodgates for a prog sound like no other in the years to come. Overall, the album is a genuine curio showing the birth of a band that is ready to catapult into the progosphere with their next adventure, the awesome "Nursery Cryme".

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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