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Marillion - Anoraknophobia CD (album) cover





3.37 | 558 ratings

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4 stars the turning point...

at least in terms of sales. In other terms "Anoraknophobia" was a consequent further progression with, once more, impressive results, and though there's - imo - very proggy stuff on it ( especially "Quartz", but also the drum'n'bass-driven "This is the 21st Century" ), its reputation amongst prog-lovers is not the one of it being a masterpiece, it's regarded more as, say, "one sign of recovery before they finally gave us Marbles" - did I get it right ?

Well, to me, it's a very good Marillion-Album, not quite as fresh and astounding as its predecessor, but still full of energy and lots of good songs that, in this case and depending on your state of mind, may have become a little to long in their final execution at times ( "When I meet god", "21st Century" ) but then again - I like them all entirely ( "If my heart were a ball", to add this, is less of a song to my ears but a very enjoyable showcase of the band jamming together, and "Seperated out", though far from being a miss, fails to impress me as much as it does in its live-form ! ). It's sounding a bit more polished than "Radiation" and ".com", too ( well, with Dave Meegan rejoining the camp once more you could expect it to sound increasingly perfect, that man's a perfectionist, but as always when he was involved he proved to be a very good partner for the band cause: ) - but full of life and honest emotion, and in some ways I still prefer it over "Marbles" ( and like to praise it as a far more convincing and better effort than AOS ! ).

Its powerful, groovy beginning with "Between you and me" ( more than a bit of U2-influence here concerning the guitars ) and the uplifting pop-qualities of "Map of the World" give this album a strong commercial appeal ( yet none of the two was to be a hit-single ), but in its entirety it presents us a lot of big audible paintings that reveal the great musicianship and high artistic approach of those 5 guys to perfect extension once more. Lots of lovely details, carefully interwoven, manage to hover these songs into impressionistic pictures of soulscapes and desire... very good lyrics, this time without John Helmer's input, but Hogie had help from Nick Van Eede ( Cutting Crew ) in order to complete "Map of the World".

Yes, paintings they are, these 8 songs of searching and redeem, like all of the best ones Marillion have brought us. Lots of colors once more, but compared to "" and in spite of a whole lot of inspiration and different ideas coming together here, the substantial color remains one and the same as a basic sign of coherence. This is serving the "Marillion-tradition" of giving every album a different mood and identity, making it a special work of art. This one should have served them as a very good "identity card" for Marillion at the start of the new millenium I think, and though it still did not get the recognition it deserved, it became a model of how a band can survive in the age of internet - if only they have a strong fan-base ( you all know that story so I hope I don't have to repeat it... good to see a band achieving real independence and absolute artistic freedom with the aid of their ever-supportive fans, and I believe that all of them and more got rewarded greatly ).

My personal faves, after more than a decade of listening pleasure with this album, turned out to be "Quartz" and, you may not believe it, the so much neglected "Fruit of the wild rose", a song that grew on me like "Radiation" has grown until I was helpless and unable to resist it. It's got such a fabulous groove ! And as a whole, it simply amazes me from start to finish... with the effect of blowing my brains out when that part drops in after the second refrain ( right after the words "as England faces the winter" ! ) ... you know... THAT part on which Mark Kelly ( in particular ) gives us a bust of "The Who"... wow ! Isn't that what prog-lovers are up for ? I don't understand why this song doesn't get more mentions as a true highlight, yep, even gets some mentions as a lesser one... have those who say that - and those who think of "Quartz", which is no less than the real "progger" here, as boring - got a different album than me ? I'd rather understand when anyone thinks of "Map of the World" as being "too much pop" or "Between you and me" as "too much of U2"... or has difficulties with the drum-loops that take "This is the 21st Century" into its suspense ( I do not have. I remain open-minded. I think it's prog ).

"Anoraknophobia", to say this as a final conclusion, has lots of beautiful melodies on it. But you need to listen in order to hear ( discover ) them. It's an album that gives me full satisfaction, so let it be highly recommended to you by a confessing Marillion-Anorak. 4 Stars at least !

rupert | 4/5 |


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