17 September 2012 (released)
14 November 2012
Do I feel lucky today. I have the honour of reviewing the best album of 2012 which happens to belong to the band Marillion. ‘Sounds that can’t be made’ is the best musical experience to hit my ears, heart mind and soul for a long time. It is the best summer festival gig, the sweatiest club date, the intimate soul searching concert, the satisfying fade away with headphones on, in your own private world. It made me feel wanted, lonely, happy and truly desperately sad.
Not a bad place to chill out for an ageing rock’n’roll addict.
Formed in Aylesbury (England) in 1979, Wiki tells me their recorded out put since 1982 is composed of 17 albums. I did not know this, having lost them during the 90’s. I am not a fan as such, though they have a sturdy fan base (the Xmas London gig is already sold out)!
Fish of course is no more a member but roll on Mr Steve Hogarth. Lead singer and wordsmith since 1989 he has evidently catapulted the talented band of musicians into cult status among the lucky guys and gals who have kept with them. The opening track ‘Gaza’, a real anthem dedicated to the people, especially children, of Gaza and the West Bank is not the sort of lyric easily(never) found on a progressive rock album. Building up, leading from its lyrics into a real barrage of musical prowess is simply astounding. A message so right, enveloped by a bass, drum, keyboard and guitar attack on war and its consequences. Indeed the guitar work by Steve Rothery is so complementary to every song. Melodic, never over stated, subtle, with licks and twists that Kate Moss would be proud of.
‘Montreal’, ‘Power’ ‘The Sky above the Rain’ are gems, beautiful lyrics engulfed by pure melody. The songs have time and space within them where the music is allowed to breathe, not demonstrative but played with sensitivity and touch. A whisper of ‘no quarter’ for example steals into ‘Montreal’ to such affect. Their style is like cross between ‘Porcupine Tree and Radiohead’ but more focused as complete songs. More pop maybe but that suits my taste. The vocal excellence of Hogarth makes the difference though knowing exactly when to push and pull away from a word, stance or groove. It’s a great spirited voice.
The title track ‘sounds that can’t be heard’ and ‘Invisible Ink’ are more textured and delicate by form with whirling vocal performances and great balance in the musical arrangements. Deep soul searching lyrics that make you ‘think’. “One day I’ll play you sounds that can’t be made, they’ll sing in you from somewhere inside your head. You’ll never hear them from the earth or the air, you’ll never hear them from the outside world, you’ll hear it happen inside you, silent and high.”
Eight tracks in total, The last two I need to talk about are ‘Lucky Man? And ‘Pour my Love’.
‘Lucky Man’ rides on a great riff , bold as brass which catapults you into air guitar world and really must be classic to hear and play on stage. “Some of us want to be a rockstar, some of us just want more and more and more. But I’m not so sure, I think I’ve been there before.”
‘Pour my love’ is the most pop song on the record but it just drew me in and carved a tattoo on my heart. Daintily and delicately played it rallies to a continuing crescendo of harmony and grace. Lyrics this time are by John Helmer a long term collaborator and what a choice. It’s a poem to all loved ones, both departed or afar, but who make us what we are. How love can ultimately just make things right. “Bend your head, the way that flowers bend their heads. I will pour upon it my love like rain.” It’s the sort of song I wish could be n°1 in the charts, the whole world has to listen to it. Its an incredible vocal performance. Never rising to histrionics, understated, gentle, guiding you to the stars, up and beyond.
Take the time (74mins19secs) and listen from start to finish: ’Sounds that can’t be Made’ will make this world a better place.