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Marillion - Marbles CD (album) cover

MARBLES

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.09 | 993 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has created a controversy for me as well as prog community. As a hard core fan of symphonic and neo prog genre, this was my first impression when I received my pre-ordered package around 3 weeks ago (huge delay actually) "Damn on you Mr. h (ogarth)! You have destroyed Marillion!". I didn't understand why the band took 2 years to complete this lousy album! I could not understand, for example, on the first track of disc 1 I couldn't catch the soul of the track even until 6 minutes passed. Oh my God .. what a lousy music they produced this time. I could not bear it anymore. So, I skipped to track 2. It's another lousy mellow track. And then track 3, It's so poppy. The skip went on with each track consumed roughly 3 minutes for my ears could bear to listen to the CD. Then I turned to CD 2, the same feeling. Forget it! Then I put this album on the shelf. For approximately a week I didn't want to touch it. Only one thing left in me after I skimmed through the two CDs: the sonic quality of the 2 CDs are excellent!

Then I gave another try. This time I intentionally disregarded all expectations and/or definition of prog. Simply put, I didn't want to pigeon hole the band to a certain category of genre or use music boundaries. I just plainly used my ears and my mind to listen to the album completely. So here I am, in the boundary-less definition of anything, open my mind, sit down and relax (it seems like an opening words for Jethro Tull's "Bursting Out" live hah? Well, music has inspired me a lot, friend!). And this is my experience .

With a spacey touch in intro part, drum-loop and a bit of percussion sound with mellow keyboard "The Invisible Man" enters my mind. The first minute reminds me strongly to the intro part of "Assassing" the band's second album. But if combined with the keyboard sound this first minute reminds me to the nuances of intro part of Fish's "What Colour is God" of Sunsets on Empire album. Am sure this is purely a coincidence not an intention. Fortunately when Hogarth's vocal slowly enter all of that association with other compositions are gone. I have to admire that this track is terrific, well structured with a mixture of great sounds. Steve's guitar sound is really excellent. I guess he played it with his heart as the sound he produced so damn smooth. Mark's keyboard sound is rich and sets the whole tone of the track.

Track 2 "Marbles I" is a pure easy listening pop music. I think the band tries to emulate (?) what Rick Wakeman's "Lady of the Lake" series in "King Arthur" album as Marbles has 4 series (I-IV) wth 3 of them shared the same melody while Marbles III is different from the others. Lyrically, Marbles tracks are weak as they tell the story about little hogarth played with marbles. So simplistic and not unique as many people have similar experience during their childhood, I think.

Track 3 "Genie" is nothing than a pop music and a little bit boring on its melody part. "Fantastic Place" is a nice track. "The Only Unforgivable Thing" is very good. It still mellow, but minute 4 the interlude is terrific, this segment produces nice melody with touchy guitar fill. The closing track "Ocean Cloud" is an epic. Again, I rate highly on this track as it has a beautiful composition. Hogarth sings with his heart, I think. The nuances created in this track is similar to Pink Floyd's "High Hope" from "Division Bell" album, I think. "Ocean Cloud" is really excellent! The ending part of this track reminds us to early Marillion music style, stunning guitar supported by keyboard sound as a background.

So now, if I conclude with disc 1, I would rate *** 1/2. Well, actually disc 1 deserves 4- star if the following downsides are completely replaced with better tracks and lyrics: "Genie" and "Marbles I & II". So boring Mr. h. (Hey, I don't understand why hogarth is called with "Mr."? It does not rock mann . too formal!! Or .. are you that bossy, h?). I give 5 star for two tracks: :"Invisible Man" and "Ocean Cloud".

"Marbles III" is the only one that has different melody than other Marbles. "The Damage" sounds completely like typical "Brit Pop" music and it reminds me to Radiohead or Muse. It's a nice track though. "Don't Hurt Yourself" is similar, but it has better melody. I like the acoustic guitar intro of this track. The music flows nicely and good melody when hogarth sings "Don't Heart Yourself .". Really cool, I think. I also like the guitar sound produced here, it's a kind of Hawaiian style. Congrats Steve!

"You're Gone" is the band's single. It's a nice pop song, sounds like house music, with drum-loop. Again, I sense that the nuance at intro part is similar to Fish's "What Color is God?". It's a coincidence, I believe. It's an enjoyable track. This track has reached UK chart no. 7. "Angelina" starts with a radio tuning sound typical to the band's intro of "Forgotten Sons" of "Script" album. Hogarth voice enters the track very nicely, I like it.

"Drilling Hole" is really cool. The opening reminds me to Peter Gabriel solo album such as "UP". I like "Drilling Hole" very much. It has a great composition in the easy listening scheme. Keyboard playing is really excellent! Congrats Mark! The interlude part makes you fly, definitely! This track blows y mind! I rate this track as high as "Ocean Cloud" and "Invisible Man". I cannot let myself not to repeat this track (I'm listening to it now with a headphone).

"Neverland" is another epic. Again, Hogarth sings with his heart completely. The keyboard background creates a solid nuance for the track. This is a track that may inspire you to create wild ideas about something you think about. Listen to Steve guitar playing .. wow! So wonderful man!!! The acoustic guitar part at minutes 4:26 is damn cool mann!! Oh God, I love this piece very very very much! Then it flows nicely with Steve stunning guitar playing. In this track also I can get a feel of Pete's tight bass guitar playing nicely.

Disc 2 is much better than 1 and I give a **** rating overall. I think, this album deserves FIVE STAR if the band only produce best tracks in one disc.

OVERALL for 2 CD package, this album is excellent. It has created something different with some notes that some tracks are sort of "derivative". It has a bit of Porcupine Tree (no wonder, the genius Steve Wilson got involved in this album), Pink Floyd and Radihead or Muse. Songwriting is good even though the lyrics are so simplistic in some tracks. Musicianship is terrific. One thing bothers me though: "where is the challenging job of Mr. Ian Mosley?". There is no dynamic drumming in almost every track. Some track use drum-loop or programming. So, Ian's capability is not fully capitalized in this album. Such a waste actually, because I know that Ian is a terrific drummer. Hogarth voice is great. Steve Rothery and Mark Kelly contributions are dominant. Pete is not fully at his potential. Ovearll, they are great musicians. If I should recommend, you should purchase the one CD version instead of 2 CD. Bravo Marillion! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Gatot | 4/5 |

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