Unbelievable, but this is the band’s 17th studio album! Most of their fans are totally and exclusively in love with their debut trilogy of “Script for a Jester’s Tear (1983)”, “Fugazi (1984)”, and “Misplaced Childhood (1985)”, and everything after Fish leaving and “Clutching at Straws (1987)” seems to did not really mattered. And yes, this is kind of unfair, but Marillion after 1988 and with Steve Hogarth as their new singer, was a totally different plate of food – food for spirit, obviously. And yes, as Hogarth fairly noticed in an interview in 2000: “If we had known when I joined Marillion what we know now, we’d have changed the name and been a new band. It was a mistake to keep the name, because what it represented in the mid-Eighties is a millstone we now carry. If we’d changed it, I think we would have been better off. We would have been judged for our music. It’s such a grave injustice that the media constantly calls us a “dinosaur prog band”…”
And Marillion had a few great moments and several good albums in the last two decades, but mainly the media refuse to notice them.
My post Fish era favorite still stays the “ancient” “Afraid of Sunlight” (1995), but Marillion were always a band to listen, to dive into their music. Not always was completely convinced by their choices, but I always find interesting moments on their records.
“Sounds That Can’t Be Made” definitively is one of the most challenging Marillion releases of their “neo progressive” era. The over 17 minutes of the opening “Gaza” are a really soulful journey into different layers and sounds, changing the mood, the vibe of the track, building up a healthy tension and playing well the balance and ontrast of some really dark and heavy riffs against some almost cinematic, spacy soundscapes. It’s almost like an Industrial fueled Led Zeppelin in some of its most explosive moments! A much sensitive take is “Power”, but really a great build-up are the over 14 minutes of “Montr©al”. This one have something from the old Marillion’s rage and energy, but definitively in a more bitter, more mature and cynical manner expressed. While Fish was always 100% involved, submerged, Steve Hogarth often seems to be more a story teller, a wise man from the dark corner, the “uninvolved” observer. But not always. “h” has his sensitivity, have his intimate, personal moments as well. One of them is “Invisible Ink” – once again, a song which could been placed easily on “Clutching at Straws” as well.
The down side are the kind of “easy”, settled, almost Pop taste of “Pour My Love” type of songs which – for me at least – making no sense. “Lucky Man” have a little bit better taste, at least have more life in it. Not so sure about the title track as well, but love its sound and tension. The closing “The Sky Above the Rain” with its over 10 minutes it’s a gentle, sensible panorama build upon a quiet piano them, Hogarth’s voice, some blue flavored strings and served with some tasty guitar interventions. Maybe too classy, maybe even Romantic, but nice.
Marillion are the last ones of a dying breed? Eventually. But while bands such as Yes or Genesis are stuck in their own past, Marillion breathing their present and still looking into the future. Their future. Not completely like their choices and not always support them unconditionally, but respect their effort of staying themselves against all the so-called expectations, against the trends and against the fake conservatorism.
This is not “that” Marillion, this is definitively “something” else, although if you dig deeper, dive under the surface of the sound, many things stay the same, but well, we’re in 2012, not in 1982 anymore! Get over it, and do yourself a favor: listen this detached.
01 – Gaza
02 – Sounds That Can’t Be Made
03 – Pour My Love
04 – Power
05 – Montr©al
06 – Invisible Ink
07 – Lucky Man
08 – The Sky Above the Rain