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3.11 | 493 ratings

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3 stars People are very right in calling the Radiation/Dot Com/Anoraknophobia trilogy Marillion's experimental era.

But it goes beyond that. They were trying to find themselves. To reinvent themselves. They were tired of some of what they'd been doing in Brave or Afraid Of Sunlight. But Marillion is a different band from the ones in the pack, and this didn't take a single album, like it took Rush with the Hemispheres/Permanent Waves transition, but rather three.

And it is really very difficult to really analyse and explore any of these three albums without going "Forget about the Fish-era nostalgia. This isn't even Marillion, it's rubbish". And that's the beauty of these albums. They trap you in their awkward undefineability.

Dot Com (As I prefer to call it to avoid any sort of confusion) is an album with changing moods, but overall, an alt-rock feeling. It opens with a very poppy tune by the name of A Legacy. Yes, this isn't Steve Hogarth going all philosophical and tragic in terms of the lyrics, nor is it him homaging his father. But it's the first we saw of his 21st century laid-back-ness, and his disgust for everything sad and unhappy. And it's okay, I mean who are we to criticise his evolution not as a musician but a person?

The problem, for me, comes with the music. The lyrics do a decent job of exploring the themes/stories they set out to dig, however ephemeral they might seem. But the music has lost its power, conpared even to Radiation. Ian Mosley's drumming adopts a much more hi- hat driven incarnation, while Rothers sticks to simple chords and forms. Mr. H takes centre stage, and Mark is somewhat reduced to an accompaniment. The music itself is very alternative, very mainstream, and this isn't bad, it's just not what we're used to see Marillion come up with, despite having been warned ever since they put Hope for The Future in This Strange Engine. It doesn't sit well if the cover reads "Marillion", but maybe it would if it were Blur putting out this music. These songs are quite good (at least four of them I love), but they really don't call for a lengthy review dissecting their musical traits because this is a very mainstream approach.

Okay, so that's what I think from A Legacy to Tumble Down The Years, of which I like the former, Rich, Enlightened, Go! and dislike BIBR, Deserve, and the latter.

Marillion seem to have saved their sheer geniality for dessert in Dot Com.

And God did they do a good job.

Interior Lulu, the eighth track in the record, is Dot Com's beast. A fifteen-minute masterpiece that takes the whole mainstreamness of the album, disposes of it, and replaces it with true social and philosophical questionings. The song is about the depreciation of personal experience and emotions when these are used to create a product, be it visual art, music, or any derivation thereof. Hogarth bombards us with very complicated statements: "We rejoice at being connected without touching. Thank God for the Internet. We stare at our screens, all our lives, what a waste of eyes, till the electrical storm blows our fuses. And we gaze, dumbfounded, at the rain", while he rages at his and other musicians' work of cheapening emotions: "You've bored us all to death with this. Well who you gonna tell, when you've nothing left to sell?"

While Mr. H goes back to the same deepness we saw in TSE, the band adopt an epic mode. Long synth passages, brilliantly balanced drumming, eye-dampening dynamics, a beautiful use of minor tonality, a brilliant marriage between what every single verse wants to convey, and how the music serves that purpose, and viceversa.

Interior Lulu is best described by Mr. H himself: "The marathon". And it truly is. A journey, an epic journey of music that changes but is the same, of lyrics that leave you mindblown. A journey of the kind us Marillion fans would not see for another five years, with Marbles and its little monsters (The Invisible Man, Ocean Cloud, Neverland).

And it also can be described by my opinion of it: Interior Lulu is one of the best pieces Marillion have come up with ever. It is up there with Blind Curve, White Russian, Incubus, TSE, Runaway and other pictures of utter excellence.

And the best way to compensate for the change in mood? Loungy jazz, great use of dynamics, a muffled trumpet, very nice electric piano sounds, and a typical abstract Hogarth theme to keep us plugged. House is a perfect resolution for the album, given Interior Lulu's utter craziness, and how it takes the listener into so many places it's numbing.

These two songs make the album worth anyone's while.

But it's still evry experimental, and to an extent, save for these two monsters, I don't really like it, especially after finding out some of these songs were axed for Radiation.

Three stars.

Juan.Pablo.Gonzalez | 3/5 |


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