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


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.95 | 625 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Call it "4", "Security", "Mask" or whatever, this Gabriel 1983 album has to be regarded as a definitive cornerstone of what the signature Peter Gabriel sound has come to be (at least, that's how I see and hear it). This is the point of no return that "3" aimed at; this is also the point of reference concerning Gabriel's evolution as writer and performer for his following studio efforts ("So", "Passion", "Us"). "4" is a triumph of the meeting of Western rock's technology and exotic tapestries (North and Middle Africa, mostly). The album kicks off with the mysterious, intense 'The Rhythm of the Heat', a powerful opener that pretty much relies on the sense of restrained energy that ultimately leads to an incendiary percussive explosion. The pulsating atmosphere that comes out droning in the sung section comes out conveniently based on synthesized layers, rhythms and samples, sounding modernistic and telluric at the same time. The arrival of the multiple celebratory drums makes the impending menace become an exciting reality. 'San Jacinto' perpetuates the general feel of mixed modernity and ethnic ground on a very different mode: more melancholic, denser, darker yet Retailing a powerful melodic framework. This tale of longing trapped in a world of cubicles finds a perfect conveyor in Gabriel's calculatedly affected singing through the exquisite keyboard orchestrations that dominate the track. The climax is awesome, and so is the languid coda that seems to portray the longing's obscurity. 'I Have the Touch' goes to a catchier appeal, providing a mixture of R'n'B-infected techno-pop and African rock. 'The Family and the Fishing Net' picks up this extroverted vibe and takes it to a rougher level. It features wild guitar (not too distant from the most guitar-oriented songs from teh "3" album) and colorful bagpipes among the ever. dominant waves of synthesizers and a solid rhythm framework. This is the first song including special guest Peter Hammill as support vocalist. The next one with this special trait is just 'Shock the Monkey', the amazing hit single off "4". This song recaptures much of the lively spirit delivered in track 3, but it sounds more ballsy and bears a more interesting melodic development. It is, indeed, catchy enough as to justify its status as hit single, but it definitely doesn't indulge in pop sweetness or banal lyrics: the words reveal the anger and fear that emerge from jealousy (that destructive energy that stems from the lover's id), and the instrumentation echoes them with effective colors. This song states a perfect balance between the stamina of rock and the lively swing of R'n'B in tune with teh album's overall scheme. 'Lay Your Hands On Me' is yet another terrific number in this album - the last one with the distinguished Hammill as guest backing vocalist. It stands somewhere between the atmospheric density of 'San Jacinto' and the magnetic colorfulness of the sung portion of 'The Rhythm of the Heat'. The ominous synth layers and effective rhythmic arrangements fit well in the process of surrounding Gabriel's chant, drowned as it is in the vulnerability of the man who needs to feel the real expression of caring and affection. The falsetto lines during the choruses and the track's title letanies are really moving. With 'Wallflower' Gabriel brings some of his most introspective side: the slow pace and the concise piano chords make room for the delivery of Gabriel's lines, full of messages against police torture and state terrorism. The song's mood is obviously dramatic, but Gabriel and the remaining instrumentalists stay clear away from the temptation of making things too corny. It definitely bears a less pamphlet-like mood than 'Biko' (a great song, anyway). The album's closer is the lively 'Kiss of Life', a clear provider of contrast against 'Wallflower'. Working in a role of album ender, 'Kiss of Life' brings an air of optimism with its African rock colors ordained on a rhythmic combination of 4/4 and 10/8. "4" stands out as a Gabriel master work, and of course, as the statement of his own musical voice's confirmation.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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