The first thing is that my box of Marillion came this week. In it were the h band live album, the "Making of marillion.com" double CD, and my first purchased DVDs--the EMI Marillion Singles Collection, and the live DVDs "A Shot in the Dark" and "A Piss-Up in a Brewery", the latter being especially interesting since I actually saw this show (well the one the day before, but the same intimate event in the Bass Museum at the Bass Brewery in England.) Great stuff. Let me explain the "making of" CDs. It's complete fanboy stuff--the first disc is a demo cut of the album, the second is about 40 tracks of snippets and musical ideas from the writing sessions. It's very strange to listen to, and is only for anal-retentive types like myself who wish to understand every nuance of the album creation process that Marillion uses (which is to throw a lot of these pieces around until they start connecting together into songs.) It's very cool to me. The h band CD is a concert that Steve Hogarth put together with a really cool backing band, with his solo album songs, some Marillion tunes, and a bunch of covers. Very neat.
I also got 2 things at the record store: The new Peter Gabriel album, Up and the new Porcupine Tree album, In Absentia.
The Peter Gabriel album is pretty much incredible. I mean, it's been 10 years since his last full-blown studio album, and he's made an album with little or no concern about being popular (1992's Us seemed to be trying to copy So's mix of pop and non-pop songs), most of the songs are about 7 minutes long and really go places. It's actually very different in terms of songwriting structure than anything he's ever done, but of course with the emphasis on percussion and melody it's unmistakably Peter Gabriel. The production is brilliant, which Us never was for me, so that's good too. It's an album that takes some time to understand and get into, but it's well worth it. It's right up there with his best albums (3, 4/Security, and So, in my opinion, and in no particular order) and probably one of the best of the year.
The new Porcupine Tree is also worth having. You may not know much about them, and they're hard to describe. I've heard the terms prog rock, electronica, ambient all used to describe them, and none of those are right. Maybe atmospheric, maybe. This album is actually a bit more directly rock-oriented than their other stuff (also it's their US major label debut--all their other stuff is only available via import in the US. Ironically, this album isn't even available in Europe yet.) It's a good introduction to their music though. I'd recommend it to anyone who would like something that's described by all those words above but really isn't that at all (oh yeah, I could probably throw goth and metal in there, again, you could try to describe the music that way but it's not that at all. Have I confused you completely yet? Go to the website and listen to some stuff and you tell me.)
Right now Up is pulsing through my stereo. Damn it sounds good.