Something Else! sneak peek: Marillion, "Gaza" (2012)

Marillion’s “Gaza” is a sweeping testament to the lingering power of the prog-rock epic, yet it remains — and this is what gives the track its resonance — firmly rooted in today’s world.

A 17-minute examination of the dangers of nationalism, the often-shocking aftermath, and the small things we grab for in order to make sense of the emotional dissonance surrounding war, “Gaza” is the second advance track (following the brilliantly languid “Power”) from Marillion’s forthcoming album Sounds that Can’t be Made — and more proof still that the project could be among their best yet.

Though “Gaza” certainly traces its form back to the earliest days of prog, there is a smart modernity to its construction. It pulls no punches, musically — or lyrically.

Listen as “Gaza” moves from stomping portent, while the lyric describes a desolate setting filled with danger and unrest, into a series of dream-like sequences set to a crunchy, mechanized cadence. Back and forth it swings, drawing you into this sense of restive, idyllic reverie — and of a desperate desire for peace, no matter which bunker they call home — only to have the landscape torn asunder by these completely unexplainable moments of violence.

It’s not unlike, you have to imagine, living in the strife-torn part of the world this track is named after.

When Steve Hogarth sings, with growing emotional turbulence, “it just ain’t right — it’s just ain’t right,” Marillion moves further out still from the simple side-taking, and the even simpler bromides, that surround these seemingly never-ending conflicts.

The costs, the very real costs, are writ large in the billowing sounds that come to surround that lyric. “Gaza” ends with the kind of crashing realizations, and the deep introspection, typically reserved for great books.

‘Sounds that Can’t be Made,’ will be issued later this month through the band’s Racket label. Tracked at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, it will be Marillion’s initial studio effort since 2009′s ‘Less is More’ — an album of acoustic reworkings that included only one new track, “It’s Not Your Fault.” Preorder ‘Sounds that Can’t be Made’ through their Web site here: http://www.marillion.com/shop/albums/sounds.htm

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Marillion. Click through the titles for more …

SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: MARILLION, “POWER” (2012): Even as Marillion puts the finishing touches on their forthcoming 2012 studio album, the prog rockers have released a new song — called “Power.” “I think we’ve managed to redefine, once again, what Marillion stand for — and are capable of,” singer Steve Hogarth (aka “H”) writes on the band’s Web site. “I think this record will affect you.” Hogarth began fronting Marillion in 1989. Founding member Steve Rothery has led a core group since 1984 that includes Pete Trewavas, Mark Kelly and Ian Mosley.

MARILLION – SOMEWHERE ELSE (2007): Marillion returned three years after their epic, widely lauded Marbles concept piece with another self-produced album. While no one seriously expected them to top such a feat, all ears were curious as to how they’d attempt to follow up what many now consider to be the unexpected peak of their 25-year career. Over the past two decades since Hogarth joined the band, Marillion has slowly shifted from a progressive band into what they are now: a pop-rock band doing very intelligent music now that happens to occasionally be conceptual in nature. This album, however, wasn’t — and I’m personally glad they opted for an album of songs rather than another big concept piece.

MARILLION – MARBLES (2004): An odd beast: a modern rock concept album with few of the pretentions of the prog-rock that is typically associated with the concept album. It wasn’t without flaws — the four, short title-track pieces serve virtually no purpose and, in spots, sound as if they were recorded on the fly with no time for corrections or overdubs, as is evidenced by Steve Hogarth’s struggling singing on the first installment. Overall, however, it was without a doubt among the best work Marillion has done.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.