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The Gathering

Experimental/Post Metal

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The Gathering How To Measure A Planet ? album cover
3.91 | 183 ratings | 13 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (53:50)
1. Frail (5:04)
2. Great Ocean Road (6:20)
3. Rescue Me (6:22)
4. My Electricity (3:33)
5. Liberty Bell (6:01)
6. Red is a Slow Colour (6:26)
7. The Big Sleep (5:01)
8. Marooned (5:56)
9. Travel (9:07)

Disc 2 (49:29)
10. South American Ghost Ride (4:25)
11. Illuminating (5:41)
12. Locked Away (3:24)
13. Probably Built in the Fifties (7:26)
14. How to Measure a Planet? (28:33)

Total Time: 103:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Anneke van Giersbergen / vocals, guitar (4,12)
- René Rutten / guitar, Theremin (3,11), didgeridoo (10)
- Frank Boeijen / synthesizer, grand piano
- Hugo Prinsen Geerligs / bass
- Hans Rutten / drums

- Attie Bauw / programming, percussion, co-arranger, production & mixing

Releases information

Artwork: Carsten Drescher

2xCD Century Media ‎- CM 77268-2 (1998, Germany)

2xLP Century Media ‎- 77268-1 (1998, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE GATHERING How To Measure A Planet ? Music

THE GATHERING How To Measure A Planet ? ratings distribution

(183 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE GATHERING How To Measure A Planet ? reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a very remarkable album. I'd call it Progressive Epic Ambient Rock. The Gathering started as a Gothic Metal band with progressive elements, and although there still are some edgy metal guitar sounds, their newer albums like this really evolved into some sort of modern Space Rock. It sounds quite electronic at times, but is largely based on traditional instruments.

The wonderful voice of Anneke is the constant element in this 1 hour 43 minutes journey. All the instruments just support the vocals, there are very few solo spots for guitar or keyboards. The whole album just flows from melody to melody, from song to song. And these melodies are really great.

If you like mellow albums like Opeth's Damnation, or Porcupine Tree's Sky Moves Sideways, you might want to give this a try, if you enjoy female vocals, too.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Quite a change on this one from the last two records.They toned down the guitars (in fact one guitarist left) and put the focus on Anneke's vocals and the atmosphere. And as if to show their fans this is a permanent move they made this album a double. I found this release took a lot more listening patience to grasp it all, and i'm still finding new things, while the 2 previous releases appealed to me right away with the powerful riffs. I guess this album is much more progressive in some ways. While some have complained about it all sounding "samey" I would disagee as the more I listened to the songs the more their own personalities come to the fore.

"Frail (You Might As Well Be Me)" opens with some atmosphere before this laid back beat with acoustic guitar joins in followed by vocals. Annek'e vocals sound so beautiful 2 1/2 and 4 minutes in. "Great Ocean Road" opens with experimental sounds before a beat comes in then guitar. Great sound ! Vocals follow and I like the contrasts on this one. Excellent tune. "Rescue Me" is a top three track for me. It's laid back with Anneke's reserved vocals joining in. Love when it kicks in after 3 minutes with heavy guitars and theremin.The guitar starts to lead as the theremin continues. Amazing sound ! "My Electricity" is again relaxing and laid back with vocals. It sounds so good though. I like the subtle guitar work in this one. "Liberty Bell" is another top three tune for me. This is darker as the sound builds and the vocals come in double tracked. It continues to build. Killer sound before 1 1/2 minutes ! "Red Is A Slow Colour" is one I like very much. It's fairly heavy but slow paced. Anneke shines. A heavy sound before 3 1/2 minutes and the rest of the song is outstanding. "The Big Sleep" has electronics and a good beat as vocals come in. "Marooned" has a nice heavy beat as vocals join in. It settles after 3 minutes. "Travel" is the final track on disc one. Experimental sounds to open before a melody with vocals takes over. It's fuller 1 1/2 minutes in as contrasts continue. Great song !

"South American Ghost Ride" opens disc two. We get some didgeridoo in this one and orchestral sounds. Samples too. It sounds like psychedelic sirens when it kicks in with a heavy sound. Kind of a weird track but cool. "Illuminating" has this heavy beat with bass. Synths join in then vocals. It kicks in as contrasts continue. Theremin before 4 minutes. "Locked Away" opens with strummed guitar and it sounds so good as synths and vocals join in. Beautiful, beautiful song. A top five with "Red Is A Slow Colour". This one gets quite heavy too. Just love it. "Probably Built In The Fifties" rounds out my top three. Heavy percussion as vocals come in. It all sounds processed then it kicks in. A great heavy sound 3 1/2 minutes in as contrasts continue. "How To Measure A Planet" is 28 1/2 minutes long. It opens with some sampling of a Russian radio broadcast, some vocal melodies later and lots of samples. It sounds so good when it kicks in before 5 minutes.

This album is very highly recommended though and patience is the key to unlock this beautiful release.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Too long. That's the first idea that came to my mind while I was looking for a phrase to describe this album by THE GATHERING.

Now, how can an album ever be too long? That would certainly mean that there are set standards that artists and reviewers should follow to create and to judge records. Well, there aren't any. When an album seems too long to a listener, this is an entirely subjective appreciation based on the enjoyment he/she had while listening to the music and his/her perception of the speed at which time passed while doing it. While listening to this double-disc by the once-metal Dutch band, time passed slowly, extremely slowly. I realized that this effect was caused by the endless procession of slow, sedated, repetitive songs that clutter "How to Measure a Planet", my third, and probably my last experience with THE GATHERING.

This appreciation, again, is entirely my own. One can't come to a review and try to find pure objectivity on it, especially when it's written about something so subjective as music and art. There are cases, though, when it's easier to point out the details that should be evident to everyone, both converts and infidels alike. In this case, I have to mention the beautiful voice of Anneke van Giersbergen, clearly the highlight of this pseudo-interesting band. This same music without her voice would be utterly impossible to digest. There are also some good moments of music, and the band is clearly capable of delivering an ambient-atmospheric experience without much effort, but I'd love if they were also capable of writing a good melody or coming up with a really good riff, for a change.

This review may sound extremely negative and quite incongruent with the rating I'll award this record. It is neither. I'm pointing out my qualms about this album, but I'm sure a listener more used to this kind of "relaxing-rock" will enjoy the experience, even more so considering this is a double-album, a fact that, while tedious for me, will be very rewarding for fans of THE GATHERING. And about the rating, I would give the album a 2.5, and I will round up to a 3, because while my opinion is clearly stated on this text, for those looking for an immediate judgment on the music by looking at the ratings, 3 stars express what is album is in a better way: a middle-of-the-road record, not harmful, not terrible, but not brilliant either.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Gathering had their act together at the end of the 90's. How To Measure is the third spectacular album in a row and there was even more to come on the next one.

Frailty continues where the most daring experimentations of Nighttime Birds had stopped. It's like Radiohead's laidback style but fronted with a female vocalist. Anneke Van Giersbergen, who matches Yorke in all his emotive power, surpasses him in cuteness and melodious skill. The music is minimalist, a slow pulse on kick and snare and an echoed guitar loop is all that she needs to evoke a flow of sweet melancholy. If anyone thought the Gathering had still anything ado with metal, rest assured, this is Cocteau Twins meeting Portishead. No trace of anything metal in sight. Great Ocean Road is heavier but not in a metallic way, more like noisy spacerock. Van Giersbergen lays down another startling vocal here. Another highlight early in the album is the sweeping Liberty Bell, a chunk of uplifting modern space-rock.

The style of the Gathering has evolved into a very personal sort of trip-hop meets space-rock, call it trip-rock or space-hop if you like. A fine example is the slow groove of Marooned, the pulse can easily be traced back to Tricky and Massive Attack, but if you listen carefully, it all goes back too the pioneering drum work of Can's Jack Liebezeit really. The Can is everywhere! The song features some mellotron and xylophones, making me wonder if they had the guys from Anekdoten over for a jam here?

The album clocks off at a dazzling 103 minutes. It must be noted that the last half hour is a post-rock noise bit that I've never managed to sit through. But even the remaining 75 minutes have the doubtful honour to be too much really. This album is another example of a potential 50 minute 5 star album that is blown out of proportion by its overindulgent length. It makes good songs with slightly less appealing vocals such as Rescue Me into songs that I have to skip in order to sit through the entire album. To continue my stream of critical consciousness, also Red Is A Slow Color and the first half of Travel suffer from droning vocal lines that sound too similar to everything else around it. Travel builds up quite dramatically though, watch out for that second half!

I must be in a bad mood really, wasting an entire paragraph on a few weaker spots on this remarkable album. More positive-minded people would probably consider this as having 2 albums for the price of one. I guess I'd better find me another album to be grumpy at! This one is a stunning piece; if it's too much to handle for me then that is my loss really. 4.5 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Somewhere between JOY DIVISION and the CRANBERRIES is where these strange folk gather. The irrevocably plodding despair of the former and the alternative rock female-fronted angst of the latter somehow meld to form a post-industrial spacey mix that is intriguing even if rarely fully realized. The group clearly has progressive idols as the mellotron strings swoosh in and out of the somewhat grungy mix. Anneke's vocals are suitably languid and quite lovely if somewhat uniform and emotionally unavailable.

The first disk is more song oriented and I do enjoy most of it to a point. However, I'd be hard pressed to pick one or two highlight tunes. I suppose that the Fripp-styled lead guitars weaving into the outro to "Great Ocean Road" and the wondrously morose melody of "Marooned" top the list, while "The Big Sleep" and "Travel" simply can't eschew their paranoid shell enough to warrant future considerations.

Disk 2 is the more experimental, with well over half devoted to the title tune that milks the fascination with space endemic to progressive fans for far too long. Still, the point of noise as music is well taken, like the manner in which those living close to large motorways learn to integrate the base level noise into their experience and perhaps their sense of space and place. In fact, I have heard that the sound wave frequencies of this decidedly human ambiance and a mountain stream with cascades are not all that different. In any case, "Illuminating", while similar in style to what came before, seems more passionate and infused with an almost danceable beat that somehow works. The deployment of distorted guitars and multitracked harmony vocals help the transformation. "Probably Built in the Fifties" is almost as good as its title, and at times suggests a pre rather than post metal quality, countered by effusive mellotrons and fragile passages. I might actually recommend listening to Disk 2 first as I believe it offers more for the discriminating listener.

It's a fine line between hypnotic delicacy and droning redundancy, and your own boundary will vary, but if the above mix is one manner by which you measure good music, do give the Gathering clearance for a few spins about your planet.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars A band that just kept getting better over the 1990s--especially as they learned to appreciate and serve the tremendous (unique?) talent of their lead singer, the great Anneke van Giersbergen.

Disc 1 (53:50) 1. "Frail (Might as Well Be Me)" (5:04) What a voice! What great atmosphere. (9/10)

2. "Great Ocean Road" (6:20) the heavier, if more straightforward side of The Gathering, Anneke's voice is buried a little in the mix, but the heavy instruments and great chord progressions keep the listener's attention well. (8.75/10)

3. "Rescue Me" (6:22) slow and spacious, Anneke's gorgeous voice has no trouble filling. Again the instruments when they build up begin to bury the vocals. There is nothing very special to this music until the crashing walls of sound and screaming synth solo take over at the halfway point. Here is an example of a fair song made much better by its instrumental passage. (8.67/10)

4. "My Electricity" (3:33) How can they keep settling for two chord simplicity? Yes, it works as a vehicle for such and extraordinary vocalist, but I think the average prog lover is hoping for a bit more. Excellent chorus section with Anneke's voice multiplied. Another stellar vocal. (8.75/10)

5. "Liberty Bell" (6:01) a sparse, spacious guitar-led opening starts out as a slow, plodding vehicle for Anneke's vocal acrobatics (with a rare BEATLES-esque treatment of her voice). The band kicks into a different gear at the 1:00 mark (for the chorus). Back down for the second verse, and then up again for the second chorus. (8.67/10)

6. "Red is a Slow Colour" (6:26) Great music, great lyric, great vocal, great variation, great bridges, great chorus, great solos, great use of instrumental passage--with awesome "orchestra" contributions--just an awesome song. Another top three song. (9.5/10)

7. "The Big Sleep" (5:01) one of the best Gathering songs of all-time and a classic Anneke song. (10/10)

8. "Marooned" (5:56) a standard first half with some nice effects playing out on the electrified instruments. Guitar and vibes take over at the halfway point--over which Anneke eventually continues singing. 'trons and drums rejoin and Anneke's voice gets multiplied. This is better. (8.67/10)

9. "Travel" (9:07) A song that is developed more fully than many of the others uses many more instrumental embellishments and contributions right from the start. (No wonder it was such a concert favorite.) Plus, Anneke leave's many spaces for the instruments to shine--and lots of time for them to develop their solos and textural contributions. Not a great song but one of my favorites from this album. Plus, at times Anneke really belts it out! (18/20)

Disc 2 (49:29) 10. "South American Ghost Ride" (4:25) very interesting musical opening section--this feels like real progressive rock music! Guitars and synths exploring several pathways while drums and bass hold a steady pace beneath. Anneke doesn't even sing until some vocalise at the end! (8.75/10)

11. "Illuminating" (5:41) rolling bass and interesting drum beat open this before synth wash chords join in. Anneke enters at 0:30 with long-syllabled words. Pretty with interesting soundscape that bursts into something heavier (and not quite as engaging) for the chorus. Multiple vocal tracks are woven together for the second verse--carrying forward into the second chorus. Grating, metallic guitar edges used to open the instrumental passage that follows before Anneke and synth sport vocalise melody lines leading into the third chorus. (8.75/10)

12. "Locked Away" (3:24) trying too hard; yielding nothing special. (8.25/10)

13. "Probably Built in the Fifties" (7:26) industrial soundscape within which Anneke's heavily treated voice is distorted and compressed. It's interesting but the repetitive drum pattern just gets old. The chugging guitars in the second half with Mellotron play are good--followed by a spacey patch in the fifth minute that I like. The final three minutes are quite good: chugging and building, exploring some distant goal before Anneke rejoins and the music fades away into the distance, leaving us watching the horizon. (13.5/15)

14. "How to Measure a Planet?" (28:33) (51/60)

Total Time: 103:19

The flaw in the band's approach to song construction is devoting the first half of every song to very banal, simple two-chord constructs for Anneke to sing over before really unleashing the true genius of the band in the second half.

B+/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Gathering's How To Measure a Planet? is a bold and innovative departure for the band, who take on significant amounts of shoegaze influence (filtered through All About Eve) and amp up the electronic content and end up charting a course for the borderlands between the gothic metal of their previous albums and the uncharted expanses of post-rock and post-metal. Though it's a very mellow album, there's still a few more spritely compositions here and there - including the intense rockout of Probably Built In the Fifties. On the whole, this is precisely the departure from expectations The Gathering needed at this time.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Not so much a reaction to attempts by media and label to misrepresent them as a gothic doom metal band as it is a moment of definitive self-realization, How to Measure a Planet?, The Gathering's fifth album, and third with vocal extraordinaire Anneke Van Giersbergen, marks a significant shift in ... (read more)

Report this review (#637279) | Posted by TowardsMorthond | Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first four Gatheringalbums gave a good motivation to fit them into the Progressive Metal category but from here on things change drastically. The leaving of second guitar player Jelmer Wiersma partly turns out to be a blessing in disguise, because at the time that several Mandylion/Nightti ... (read more)

Report this review (#120045) | Posted by Casartelli | Saturday, April 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Here is a good way to travel. At this point, the Gathering had become a self confident and accomplished band, able to provide you with precious music and the right atmosphere. The first thing you may notice in this album is its extreme coherence. In the long run this could turn out a little bo ... (read more)

Report this review (#116950) | Posted by paolo.beenees | Saturday, March 31, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Another change, not as radical as between albums 1 & 2 to number 3 & 4, yet obvious and easily visible, mh ... excuse me ... audible. I couldn't deal with ALWAYS & ALMOST A DANCE - the non-ANNEKE albums. I really enjoyed MANDYLION & NIGHTIME BIRDS a lot and would use these two as my personal reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#88168) | Posted by Waylander | Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This double album would require two reviews, as the two parts are totally different, almost like they were played by two different bands. Part I is classic Gathering, with more mellow songs than on Nighttime Birds. Part II is much more experimental, with less vocals and more instrumental parts ... (read more)

Report this review (#65552) | Posted by zaxx | Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As every Gathering album (from Mandylion), this one is very interesting. After some though times, the members of the band began to experiment by writing songs with electronic and fuzzy elements. The gothic influences from the two previous albums are gone and the songs sound very raw and dark on ... (read more)

Report this review (#61175) | Posted by Robin | Wednesday, December 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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