Peter Gabriel - i/o

Review Peter Gabriel - i/o

It has been a full 20 years since Peter Gabriel last released an album with new original compositions. Until now. Just in time for the start of the Advent calendar season, the British grand master of sound has released his latest album i/o - a journey of more than two hours through numerous musical genres.

i/o is reminiscent of the English lettering on on-off switches. Is that what it means? Who knows. After all, it is a restart, a revival of the pop great, who has shown twice with Genesis and later as a soloist that he is one of the greats of the genre, but is always open to other cultures and forms of expression, which he integrates into his work.

It is therefore not surprising that i/o has a lot to offer. The opening track Panopticum seems to be just another pop song at first, but it quickly turns into a Gabriel-typical pattern with spoken vocals, abysmal passages and half-time grooves.

In its 24 songs and over two hours of playing time, the album integrates a phalanx of genres into ever new combinations that provide plenty of entertainment, even if some of it seems predictable if you've known Gabriel for a while and listened to him often. Nevertheless, it is not a variation on the theme of "I already know it, I'll do it differently again".

Perhaps the diversity here also lies in the musicians. As always, Gabriel has surrounded himself with good personnel. A total of 29 instrumentalists and vocalists are listed in the list of contributors, including Manu Katché and Steve Gadd on drums, Brian Eno on synthesizer, David Rhodes on guitar, Tony Levin and Don-E, who are responsible for the bass sounds, and Paolo Fresu on trumpet. And these are just a few of the musicians who make for a convincing sound.

The airy atmosphere that i/o delivers throughout is pleasing. The vocals are always at the center and are not just another pop sounding accessory mixed in with the noise of the collected music. The sounds are authentic and the mix is always transparent. That's another reason why it's always fun to listen to i/o. And then to listen to it again.

Peter Gabriel, lead vocals, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, glass harp
David Rhodes, guitars, acoustic guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar, backing vocals
Tony Levin, bass
Manu Katché, drums
Ged Lynch, percussion
Tom Cawley, piano (on "Playing for Time")
Evan Smith, saxophone (on "Olive Tree")
Josh Shpak, trumpet (on "Road to Joy" and "Olive Tree")
Melanie Gabriel, backing vocals (on "The Court", "Four Kinds of Horses", "So Much", "Love Can Heal" and "Live and Let Live)
Ríoghnach Connolly, backing vocals (on "Panopticom", "Love Can Heal" and "This Is Home")
Jennie Abrahamson, backing vocals (on "Love Can Heal")
Linnea Olsson, cello (on "Love Can Heal"), backing vocals (on "Love Can Heal")
Angie Pollock, synths (on "Love Can Heal")
Brian Eno, synthesizer (on "Panopticom", "The Court", "This Is Home" and "Live and Let Live"), bells (on "Panopticom"), percussion (on "The Court"), rhythm programming and progressing (on "Four Kinds of Horses" and "Road to Joy"), electric worms and additional synths (on "Four Kinds of Horses"), manipulated guitar and ukulele (on "Road to Joy"), rhythm programming (on "Live and Let Live")
Oli Jacobs, synthesizer (on "Panopticom", "Playing for Time", "I/O" and "This Is Home"), programming (on "Panopticom", "The Court", "I/O", "This Is Home" and "Live and Let Live"), piano (on "Four Kinds of Horses"), tambourine (on "This is Home")
Don-E, bass synth (on "Road to Joy")
Katie May, acoustic guitar (on "Panopticom" and "I/O"), percussion (on "The Court", "This Is Home" and "Live and Let Live"), Rickenbacker guitar (on "I/O"), synthesizer (on "I/O"), rhythm programming (on "Four Kinds of Horses"), guitar effects (on "Love Can Heal")
Richard Evans, D whistle (on "I/O"), mandolin (on "Olive Tree")
Richard Chappell, programming (on "Panopticom", "The Court", "I/O", "Olive Tree", "And Still" and "Live and Let Live")
Richard Russell, filtered percussion (on "Four Kinds of Horses")
Hans-Martin Buff, additional percussion and synths (on "Road to Joy")
Ron Aslan, additional synthesizer (on "Road to Joy")
Oli Middleton, percussion (on "This Is Home")
Paolo Fresu, trumpet (on "Live and Let Live")
Steve Gadd, brush loop (on "Live and Let Live")
Orphei Drängar (on This Is Home)
Musical director, vocal arranger, Bongani (Honey) Ncube
Cecilia Rydinger, choir conductor

(Thomas Semmler, HighResMac)

Peter Gabriel - i/o

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