This is one of the most curiosly unexpected releases of the year 2000, at least for me. No, I’m not kidding. Certainly, Peter Gabriel fans (including myself) are still waiting for the release of Up. However, he has come up with something that should keep us content for a while. However, I think that I am being very objective with this review. I guess that since I’ve learned to listen to more excellent music, and to have varied tastes, I have grown a bit more objective about my very favorite artists.
After the background of the Milennium Dome show (which, for those who do not know, was not the success the authors expected), and a few not nice reviews, I had lowered my expectations with the album. Certainly, I did not believe it would be more commercial than So or Us. Strange as it may seem, I thought it would be fairly weak. Fortunately, it was way better than I expected, but definitely does not tie my Gabriel-fave trilogy (Peter Gabriel IV, Passion, and Us).
However, it is nice listening to Peter taking a new direction, this time into electronica, without looking trendy or mindless. Instead, for his first conceptual work since Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974), he combines his ever-present ethnic interests with new interests in electronica. Unfortunately, those experimentations either fail (like the unnecessary rap “The Story of OVO” for those who bought the enhanced CD) or fall short of what we Gabriel fans expect from him, knowing his talents. Perhaps I would like OVO better if I had bought the version that excluded this song.
Peter is the one who sings less here, and even though I liked the vocal collaborations, especially with Liz Fraser’s (Cocteau Twins) always sublime voice, and Iarla O’Lionard, I think that would be nice if Gabriel sang more, instead of O’Lionard, Paul Buchannan, or Richie Havens.
The songs are very varied here. The ethereal “Low Light” and “The Nest That Sailed the Sky” are beautiful ambient themes. This genre is not unfamilliar to Gabriel, since he had made some incursions on “Birdy” and “Passion.” Gabriel’s ultra-sincere homage to his father is moving, recalling a bit of XTC’s “Apple Venus Vol. 1”’s orchestral and subtle passages. “The Tower That Ate People” is one of the best themes of OVO. It has a sort of trip-hoppish influence, but with a very Gabriel touch. Its following piece, “The Revenge,” sounds like a reprise of 1982’s “The Rhythm of the Heat“ ‘s closing session, but it sounds suitable in the context of OVO. “The Time of the Turning(Reprise)/The Weaver’s Reel” is a pleasantly surprising theme of dancey rhythms. “White Ashes” is another magnificent yet very brief piece, in a very techno way.
Overall, OVO is an almost excellent record, not without its flaws, I must admit, but pretty much worth the money.
Written by Pekky Marquez.