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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 4 [Aka: Mask, Aka: Security] CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.95 | 627 ratings

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5 stars I like to look at music as a living thing - Peter Gabriel, 1981

Frustrated with the musical and geographical limitations of western rock music in 1981 Peter Gabriel sought out alternative sources of technology and spirituality to create opaque atmospheres and images which probed into the deepest recesses of human consciousness for his fourth studio LP which was also known as Security in North American markets. While not trying to create music for other cultures but rather for the world as a whole, Gabriel chose to borrow extensively from African, Latin American, Caribbean and Aboriginal rhythm structures and applied them in modern contexts. He also exploited the potential of many state of the art tools which were available to him in his recently acquired personal recording studio. Most notably the sophisticated sound possibilities of computerized musical instrumentation were used to to modify real sounds into surreal effects throughout the album including the sound manipulation of his voice which added to the intensity of the many underlying human themes which were explored here. As a result of Security`s overall ominous aura many erronously saw this album as an extension of his previous work which explored darker elements of human nature. On the contrary, this fourth album conveys much more warmth and understanding and finds Gabriel confronting human circumstances more directly, some of which are resolved and some left for further ponderance. Whatever the outcome of the individual compositions each had their own sound personality built around a unique pulsating rhythm base which breathed a certain life into them. A haunting presence also lurks throughout the work with elimination of more familiar sounds found in contemporary music such as conventional guitar and bass sounds which are either distorted or used more rhythmically.

The opening track, Rhythm Of The Heat establishes an overall poignancy which will preside over most of the work. Inspired by the book Symbols And Interpretations Of Dreams by noted German psychologist Karl Jung the piece focuses on Jung`s encounter with a group of drummers during an expedition to Africa and extracts visceral anxieties that reside within our souls which are isolated from any contrived origins. Employing a troupe of African drummers Gabriel accentuates this air of torment and gathering madness concluding with a spectacular crescendo which ends abruptly as if to release one from an uncontrollable mystical confrontation with a primeval consciousness. He continues to work his way through the album more like a tonal artist rather than a musician and this is reflected through frequent insertions of spoken word over dense atmospheres created by his arsenal of synths, computers and freak knows what else. Whether he`s bearing witness to the obliteration of ancient native traditions through modern decadence ( San Jancinto ) or referring to the modern wedding as a twisted pagan ritual ( The Family And The Fishing Net ) these voicings add a certain intensity which draws the listener deeper into the essence of his messages which can be difficult to interpret at times. The mowtown influenced hit from the album about jealousy, Shock The Monkey, is often mistakenly linked to animal experiments ( largely due to the video release which accompanied it ) while Lay Your Hands On Me has been misconstrued as some sort of reference to the life of Jesus Christ when in effect it was about trust, healing and sacrifice with Gabriel emphasizing this meaning by falling backwards into the audience during live performances of this piece. I Have The Touch, one of the more upbeat songs on the album has an important human message with Gabriel urging us as humans to reach out to one another, seemingly being discontented with the English aversion to physical contact. One song seems to be out of place and context with the themes presented on the album though. Wallflower, which was originally inspired by the mistreatment of political prisoners in Chile sort of intrudes on the more metaphysical themes of the other tracks. Ironically, it`s one of the prettiest and poetic songs on the album but has no happy ending, much like Biko from his previous album which describes the cruel murder of a black man in a Souith African police station. Gabriel wisely places the celebratory danceable Kiss of Life after Wallflower to give the listener some relief at the conclusion of the album which could have had ended with an air of lingering uncertainty.

It`s worth mentioning that Gabriel released this album in the German language under the title Duetsches Album. In keeping with his desire to make music more of a universal institution he tried to convince foriegn divisions of his record company to release his music in as many languages as possible with Germany being the only taker. Although his previous album was released in German it differed only in the German vocal track. Here Gabriel varies the final mixdown slightly and worked with a translator which resulted in some tracks not translating well. In particular, Shock The Monkey acquired a somewhat ridiculous treatment as did Kiss Of Life. Wallflower also sounds too harsh in the German translation considering the sensitive nature of it`s content. Gabriel also demonstrates his impecable command of the German language adjusting and varying his intonation and phrasing to flow better musically. Without reservation definitely worth checking out for the various subtle differences in the mixdown.

An early digital release with thoughtful and meticulous use of technology, Security not only broke down technological barriers but also had a worldiness to it which reached out to the plight of third world cultures and tried to show how important it was to stay connected with one another both physically and culturally. Although it was bashed in some circles for the overuse of technology it was warmly recieved by black magazines and recieved extensive radio play on black radio stations in the United States. An album which talks to both the body and the mind as well as to the past , the present and the future. And as such, demands patience and attentiveness in order to glean some Gabriel`s visionary messages which are still prevalent to this day.

Vibrationbaby | 5/5 |


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