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Marillion - Marbles CD (album) cover





4.09 | 1079 ratings

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The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Yet another disappointing posture taken by the band. Since reforms and changes started to manifest throughout the MARILLION commanded by Mr. H, the pure essence of the band started to fade away as well. Undoubtedly, the "Marbles" experience picks up from the worn out formula albums like "Afraid of Sunlight" and "This Strange Engine" sustained and ended up leaving behind. So merely, there are no possible traces of progressiveness and inventive to be followed in here. There weren't any at the time the retail version was released, so I wasn't surprised to still haven't found those in the double CD presentation. But I do think there's a reason for such things as "Marbles" to happen. The possible explanation I could've come up with, was to realize that after all these years, everything comes to an end since it had a beginning, everything becomes rusty and old since it was new and innovative sometime. The eternal recurrence to the foundations built on "Seasons End", "Holidays in Eden" and maybe on "Brave", incurs in losing perspective and transition. Maybe the basis, the representative sound of the reborn MARILLION after FISH, worked that first, that second and even that third time, but after compelling the posterior productions to follow those exact same steps in the exact same order, it all became not redefining, but repetitive and disturbing. This "second phase" MARILLION implemented a whole different instrumentation and a complete different way of songwriting. Yes. That, is practically impossible to overlook when comparing the before and after. But far beyond returning to the point of confronting both sides, there comes a time were the work of oneself apart from it all, from the past and the remains of what it used to be, has to outstand and has to shine with a light of its own. Many, I'm not generalizing; of the productions with HOGARTH on the microphone happen to be pretty peculiar. It's all about composing, writing, arranging, mixing and editing a brand new album after another, with two or three outstanding songs and then, fill the empty spaces on the total running time with pointless tracks that aimlessly display progression and a captivating, distinguishing mark. It isn't me being shortsighted here, it isn't me taking it all out on this MARILLION, it is the voice of thousands. Just like the show performed by the band here in Mexico City, the "Marbles" album goes from average to bad as the time to reach the end of it goes by. Media, fans and experts, define this last release by the English band under the terms of "bad, incomplete, pretentious and uncommitted". No more to say regarding that issue.

Now, moving on to the composition of the album in its entireness. There are, like in the rest of the productions after "Brave"; a couple of tracks that set off the rest in here. Such is the case of "The Invisible Man", a song that really made it due the effort and dedication put together in here. It certainly has got the seal stamped by Steve HOGARTH ever since he made it to the band, it contains the unidirectional trend the band adopted over the years and which happened to improve remarkably. I quite enjoyed it despite the blank moments it's got and the unappealing arrangements done to the acoustic fragments and the circular percussions.

Under the terminology of "great", like I just described up above; "Ocean Cloud" is another supporting anchor that avoided the entire production to irremediably sink deep down in itself. Surprisingly, Steve HOGARTH displays such an arrogant voice, so fulfilling and convincing along the perfectly handled wailing guitar of Steve ROTHERY, it made me think for a while the rest of the experience on CD 2 was going to be worthy to listen to. Here, the unexpected progressive changes, the swinging of one type of mood to the other and the back and forth struggle to resemble the track to the most powerful song ever written in this second period of the band, certainly appeared to be credible. It could've reached the heights where the epic and the memorable unite, but once again, the remains of the "three hit albums" saga, took place in here and took over the rest of the song. It is fantastic to feel though, that there's a display of effort. But it's never enough until you complete the mission of completing a full convincing production, and "Marbles", certainly doesn't appeal to that.

The regression to simple and plain, is perfectly reflected in pieces like "The Damage" and "Don't Hurt Yourself", where playful, indescribable lyrics float around with no purpose at all, just to push both songs away from another couple of instrumentals. But the inexplicable, the outrageous and shameful, is condensed in some other excerpts of that rock pop essence once worked out for the band during the nineties. I'm talking about "You're Gone" (and the Single Mix version all along), "Angelina" and "Drilling Holes". In my opinion, I wouldn't have added up these tracks to the final cut version, but a 2 CD set album has got to be completed somehow.

So, this 2 CD presentation album has several purposes, where some of those will be discovered by you over the constant sessions of listening to it; represented mainly by vindication after releasing a tendentious single retail version and obviously, by a possible full acceptance. Which happened to be not completed and empty. The purposes to me will relay on completing your album collection and for you to see that it's not about comparisons, it's about realizing how ungrateful time has been to this "renovated" neo prog band of the relentless nineties. Not indispensable, that's for sure.

The Prognaut | 3/5 |


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