Dumbing down has become an informal state apparatus
- suppressing, under privileging and alienating the
radical consciousness, withdrawing its media platform
- devaluing its claims, making it seem almost pitifully
inadequate and irrelevant. the rise of 'Pop Idol' and
Elimidate's Kerry McFadden and the marginalisation
of Peter Gabriel?
It comes then as no surprise to learn that the likes
of Gabriel are deemed 'not relevant' when a conspiracy
of fools - or a 'confederacy of dunces' - conspire against
them. Why? The intellectual has often been throughout
history the sheath from which the dagger of the radical
is drawn. Withdraw the intellectual from the popular
domain and you all but disarm the radical. Blair and
his maggots apparent have taken control of the building
and arrested the media spectacle: and they've conned
each and every one of us in the process.
Automania - the public is fed a bland, repetitive
stream of 'transparent' images: the 'reality' talk-show,
the 'reality' poll show, the 'reality' science show
- and our response is automatic and horizontal - without
troughs - without peaks - no greater and no less than
our response was last week when we watched the same
show - and responded with exactly the same actions to
exactly the same series of actions. But this in itself
is not the smartest trick that's been pulled. The smartest
trick that's been pulled is that they've switched 'realities'
not whilst we weren't looking - but at precisely that
time we were looking at what we thought was
the real thing.
The net result is that the public response becomes as
automatic and predictable as the diet of TV that it
And in a world where David Beckham has become king -
what possible lethal bullets could there be to fire?
Voyeurism? Surveillance? Two-sides of the same coin,
It's 20 years since Gabriel released the political stick
of dynamite that was 'Biko' - a release that was arguably
the porthole through which apartheid jumped into the
popular consciousness in the UK and one that may have
eventually sound tracked the release of Mandela few
years later. Big claims, I know - but such was the power
of popular music.
But such has always been the power of music to
rake up and stir both public and private consciousness
alike. That Gabriel was responsible for the spectral
soundtrack to Alan Parker's film 'Birdy'- a private
take on the Vietnam consciousness of the late seventies
and early eighties - should also come as no surprise
- dealing as it does with the both suppressive nature
of imagination and the ability of that same imagination
to take flight in pursuit of happiness.
And on September 21st at the time of the full moon on
Virgin Records and Real World label the
pursing spectre of imagination will again take flight
as (Gabba, Gabba) Gabriel releases his 12th solo album
to date: UP.
10 years in the making and an introspective, quieter
sub-text to 1992's dirt digging 'US' album, 'UP' is
a return to the private porthole of the artist's imagination.
And without hogweed - giant or otherwise - the album
is a positive declaration of intent.
Gabriel describes the album as 'more vertical than horizontal'
a 'bookend record' looking at the beginning and the
end of a life as opposed to the middle, reflecting on
the life that grows out of death and recognizing patterns
and forces at work above and beneath our normal focus.
Drawn against a backdrop of the influences of the moon
and water both the album and the prospective tour design
represent in one or more ways the magnetic pull and
retraction of natural forces - the ebb and flow of consciousness
- the residual activity of ghosts, the re-emergence
of hope and the birth of the new. The house in woods,
dark shapes beneath the water, the creature in the closet,
UP lays bare the fearful and treacherous imagination
of childhood that both stirs and repels the monster
Its timely, its' welcome. It's relevant.
Taken from the fragments and materials that made up
over 130 songs, the tracks 'come from all over the place,'
Peter says in explaining the record's selection process:
"I throw up ideas that interest me melodically and rhythmically
and keep trying to develop them. It's like growing fruit.
Eventually it feels heavy or ripe enough, and you squeeze
it and it bears some juice."
Gabriel is a strong believer in the idea that artists
should only release albums when they have something
significant to offer as opposed to obligating the machinery
that spews it out:
" I wanted and needed to take stuff in. When you make
a record you're spewing stuff out, and unless you've
had enough input how can it be interesting to other
people and reflect what's going on?"
And though Step's 'H' might be turning in his foreseeable
grave; you have to admit he's got a point. Free your
mind and the rest will follow.
In audio, the term 'signal to noise ratio is used to
signify how strong a sound signal is in relation to
the background noise. In the present climate - the background
noise is considerable. So much so perhaps that it has
become difficult to discern any meaningful sensation
in the undesirable white noise made by popular culture
today. Gabriel again provides a focus - a mindful signal
- a ratio by which to measure the noise and the mindless
static that obscures those more mindful voices beneath
'The Barry Williams Show' - is a released as a single
on September 9th.
For more info on UP log on to:
the ' Barry William Show' Video
Alan Sargeant for Crud Magazine© 2002
08/02 Beachwood Sparks Interview
08/02 Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head
08/02 Goldrush - Don't Bring Me Down
08/02 Montgolfier Brothers Interview
08/02 Wilco - Interview - Jeff Tweedy
09/02 Apples In Stero Interview
09/02 Audio Vent Interview - Band Of Brothers
09/02 Beck - Sea Change Listening Party
09/02 Bon Jovi - Everyday
09/02 Peter Gabriel - UP - Signal To Noise Ratio
09/02 Ikara Colt - Live - 100 Club, London
09/02 Joy Zipper - Ron
09/02 Kathryn Williams - No One Takes You Home
09/02 Carling Weekend Leeds Festival
09/02 Noise Therapy - Interview - Ron Thiessen
09/02 Splender Interview
10/02 Dragpipe Interview
10/02 Foo Fighters - One By One
10/02 Goldrush - Live - Camden, Dingwalls
10/02 Hell Is For Heroes - Live - Brixton Academy , London
10/02 Jetplane Landing - Live - Grage , London
10/02 Kinesis - Live - Grage , London
10/02 Ladytron - Seveteen
10/02 Longwave - Live - Water Rats, London
10/02 My Computer - Live - Camden Monarch, London
10/02 Polyphonic Spree - Tour Dates
10/02 Silvertide Interview
10/02 Simian - Live - Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, London
10/02 System of A Down - Steal This Album
10/02 Talib Kweli - Quality
12/02 A - Live - Brixton Academy, London
12/02 Audio Bullys - We Don't Care
12/02 Aurelius 7 Interview
12/02 Burning Brides Interview
12/02 D4 - Live - Mean Fiddler, London
12/02 Top Ten Albums 2002
July - August 2001
September - October 2001
November - December 2001
January - March 2002
April - July 2002
August - December 2002