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Created for the performance area situated at the centre of the Millennium Dome, Peter Gabriel's Ovo is an ambitious concept piece that attempts to address the stages of human evolution through a family saga. That it fails--at least in this setting--is not all that surprising given the project it's associated with. Never one to be intimidated by a concept or a challenge (see Genesis, the early years, or The Last Temptation of Christ), Gabriel may have been the ideal choice for a multi-cultural, technology-focused show, and his general instincts seem sound. But even Cirque du Soleil, whose work this most resembles, never had to contend with the blending of Gaelic folk and tribal overtones, techno-futuristic soundscapes and gentle ballads, or a sludgy re-working of "Digging in the Dirt" complete with a rapped storyline. Though there are some fine, interesting moments here, they're too often lost in the shuffle--which sounds as much like a requiem for the Dome as it does for Ovo. --Randy Silver
Top customer reviews
I therefore like to think of OVO as a soundtrack, because my memories are intertwined with images of the show. It was with this in mind that I purchased the CD, as you might want the soundtrack to a thought provoking film.
OVO was intended to celebrate the past, present and future of Britain and is based around the story of pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial society (what's to come).
The tracks reflect this and describe events in history such as the industrial revolution in 'Time of the Turning'. There are some beautiful phrases such as 'Did you see it move, it's in the very cloth that I weave' refering perhaps to the spark of genius in the weaving industry which started the whole industrial revolution. Intertwined with these stories of our nation's history are the sounds of the traditional and modern instruments of multicultural Britain from brass bands to indian pipes and electronic guitar.
All the songs, particularly those describing a optimistic future of harmony with machine and nature, are very reflective. They capture your moods with profound phrases and haunting solos. 'Downside up, upside down' for instance paints the scene of us moving from an inhuman age of machine and greed into that of harmony;'The only constant I am sure of, is this accelerating rate of change'.
My favourite lyric from the last track 'Make Tomorrow Today' could be the epitaph to the whole album, it says simply; 'what better measure of what you were doing here, than what you can leave behind'.
Peter has left behind a record of our culture, emotion, history and hopes for the next millennium at the end of the second.
I'm a huge Blue Nile fan, so Paul Buchanan's presence on a couple of the tracks really sweetened the deal that this album is. The other vocalists all add to the experience, too, as detailed in other reviews below.
But ultimately, this is music designed to accompany a show - and whilst it did do that brilliantly in places (the sequence of the show that was accompanied by "The Tower That Ate People" was INCREDIBLE!), there is still an element of 'soundtrack' about it upon re-appraisal. To put it another way, without the visual element, it appears to be slightly lessened.
And in terms of being a cohesive album, it struggles. In writing music about the universal human experience, it tries to touch on too many bases by trying to integrate too many musical styles.
And it isn't really a Peter Gabriel album in any tangible sense either, as his voice isn't holding it all together - only really prevalent on a couple of tracks.
As a document of the show it is terrific, and the production values and songwriting etc. are all off-the-chart excellence. And you get the sense that PG stands in the wings on everything you hear.
Unquestionably great quality, then, but slightly misfiring as a stand-alone work.
Still pretty damn essential.
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Would recommend to any Peter G fans if you havent got this get it!
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