Peter Gabriel – I/O

“I/O” is the somewhat enigmatic title of Peter Gabriel’s new album, which has now finally been released, after it was announced in November of last year. There was a huge buzz because Gabriel always released the singles on a new full moon prior to the album release, accompanied by a new work of art by all kinds of renowned artists. This is how the album has been generating a lot of buzz on social media and in the press for more than a year. A very clever example of promotion.

Now that the album is finally here, we can listen to whether the 12 tracks meet the high expectations. Physically and digitally, the album has twelve tracks, which are presented in a so-called “Bright-side mix” and a “Dark-side mix”.

“I/0” is short for “input/output,” but it is also the name of a moon of the planet Jupiter. That’s all nice, but in the end it’s all about the music. The singles already showed that Gabriel still knows the art of making intelligent pop music that stylistically borders on art rock. All titles were written and produced by Gabriel, with the exception of “Road to Joy,” which has Brian Eno as co-producer and “Four Kind of Horses,” which features Richard Russel, known for his work with artists Gil Scott-Heron and Damon Albarn.Production-wise, the album is definitely completely finished.

The mix is of an exceptional quality that I have never heard in this way before. Mark ‘Spike’ Stent is the man responsible for this, and can therefore take a large part of the credits for this album. Stent has now received 33 Grammy Nominations and has worked on almost all albums that have been decisive in the last 15 years of pop music. He is the real star of this new album from Peter Gabriel, which technically sets a new standard for what a pop music album can sound like.Of course we already knew a number of beautiful tracks that were released as singles, but as an album they form a beautiful unity. It is a real pleasure to listen to the musical magic that Gabriel manages to create with old friends such as Manu Katche on drums and Tony Levin on bass. Brian Eno is present on keys. The strings are real, the arrangements beautiful.

Listen to “The Court”. That intro is impossibly beautiful. You really should listen to this album with good headphones. If you do that, you will experience one surprise after another. That snare drum, how can it sound so good? As if you were standing next to it. Then the strings join in, and the groove floats between the staccato strings, compelling and gurgling like a mountain stream, the percussion splashing like fresh drops of water. So beautiful.

“Four Kind of Horses” following. Just like with “There Court” we hear Gabriel’s daughter Melanie on the backing vocals. Peter Gabriel’s voice is one that can tell stories. He is not only a gifted singer but as well a storyteller with enormous expressive power. Add to that how great that voice is here in this mix. Every little inflection, every change in timbre, intonation and breath support can be heard. Organically the voice is part of the music. And then there’s Levin’s pulsating bass that ties everything together. Without Levin’s input, Gabriel’s music would not be the same. The orchestra then joins in the second part. Beautiful. You would immediately want to start the song again, but this album forces you to keep listening.

“Road to Joy,” which Gabriel produced together with Brian Eno, formerly of Roxy Music, brings back memories of a track like “Steam,” but compared to this masterpiece it is just a pop song from the past.

All in all, “I/0” has become a masterpiece on all fronts. An album that will leave you in amazement after listening to it. Never before have I heard such a well-produced album. Musically it is just as strong and convincing. No grand gestures or difficult fuss, Gabriel still knows the art of making real pop songs, but of surprisingly good quality. Peter Gabriel has created the best album of his career and perhaps even the best album of 2023 (9/10) (Real World)

To share this article:

Don't forget to follow our Spotify Playlist: