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World Music CD Reviews Europe

PETER GABRIEL

By Chris Rubin
Published April 26, 2006

Long Walk Home
Real World

UP
Geffen

It’s been a challenging decade for fans of Peter Gabriel. He once issued albums on a reasonably regular basis, but it’s been a full 10 years since Us, his last real collection of new songs. But now, with the recent release of Up and Long Walk Home (the soundtrack for Rabbit-Proof Fence), Gabriel’s fans have been rewarded for their patience. Thunderous percussion in exotic rhythms creates a sort of Stone Age techno on Long Walk Home, which overflows with dark, foreboding and mysterious sounds. A number of Real World musicians appear, including the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Hassam Ramzy, Shankar and Johnny Kalsi, but some of the best “music” comes from processed animal noises. A stunning soundtrack, Home rivals Gabriel’s Passion, his music for The Last Temptation of Christ, but ultimately falls short of that masterpiece as a stand-alone listening experience. For Up, Gabriel has brought back many regulars, including bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche and guitarist David Rhodes. Despite its title, Up is a mostly somber batch of songs, focusing on mortality, with often hard-edged–and always ambitious–music. “More Than This” is a meditation on life after death, while “I Grieve” pours out passion over loss. And “Signal To Noise” features what may be the most impassioned and urgent vocals ever from both Nusrat and Gabriel. Comic relief–and some serious funk–comes in the form of “The Barry Williams Show,” a lively satire that takes on Jerry Springer.