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04.08.2018

DARYL EASLEA

Without Frontiers: The Life and Music of Peter Gabriel

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Omnibus Press, 2018)

Karakter: 4.5/6

Peter Gabriel book cover.jpgThis utterly convincing and highly fascinating 447-page book on the enigmatic Peter Gabriel (Genesis) is as detailed and well-researched as it is interesting. The voice of those early Genesis classics is undoubtedly a strange and slippery character to some in that he defies and transcends all the norms and conventions that usually apply when we judge and evaluate a person and his or her life's work. In other words, Peter Gabriel is much more than simply a musician or a solo artist; his many ventures include charity work, launching what eventually turned into a succesful music festival (WOMAD), audio-visual experiments, crafting various movie soundtracks, and working with a myriad of people and organizations that focus on peace initiatives as well as human rights all over the globe. The list is long and it must have been a long and arduous task for the talented author of this dense piece of literature to analyze, dissect, and contextualize the many-faceted and almost surreal career of Gabriel, but judging by the quality of "Without Frontiers" all the hard work was definitely worth it.

"Without Frontiers" is well-written and focused, but more importantly, it contains and offers just the right amount of criticism needed in order to present a balanced view of Gabriel's long career and somewhat complex life. Nothing about Peter has ever been straightforward and it is impossible to say whether he is a prog rock pioneer, a post-punk innovator, a pop star, or all of those combined, but this magnificent opus by Daryl Easlea unravels the rather convoluted web surrounding the extraordinary man that is Gabriel and paints a lively and spirited portrait of him. By drawing on countless interviews with friends, band mates, and colleagues, we are offered a rather intimate glimpse of both the artistic persona and the personality of Gabriel, but the author never presumes anything or conjures up any wild and fantastic theories in order to turn the book into something sensationalistic. It has a most appealing and charming down-to-earth vibe to it, which is partly due to its clear language and concise, confident tone. The fact that it looks at and discusses Peter Gabriel as a gifted, charismatic, and creative individual as opposed to some otherworldly prodigy definitely works in its favor. As mentioned earlier on, "Without Frontiers" has a brilliant approach to Gabriel's body of work in that it highlights both the good and the bad, which is to say that not everything he has had a hand in creating has turned to gold. Some of it has, but not everything, which this superb book does a great of job of reminding us of. One thing that stood out in particular was the chapters detailing his somewhat problematic and conflicted relationship with his musical past (i.e. Genesis) and the prog rock genre as a whole - those chapters are worth looking into and paying extra attention to as there is some thought-provoking stuff in there.

This 2018 edition has been revised and updated, and there is absolutely no excuse for not immersing yourself in the inspired and inspiring story of the multi-talented Mr. Gabriel. It also goes without saying that any fan of Genesis or prog rock in general ought to check "Without Frontiers" out as it contains some marvelous chapters on the birth and rise of the aforementioned ensemble and just how important Gabriel was to the entire musical enterprise. If you are desperately awating a new Peter Gabriel solo album, this marvelous book is just what you need as it will make the wait much more bearable. Trust me on that.
 


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