At the end of a year in which Peter Gabriel has released a new song on the occasion of every full moon, as well as performed live to rapturous audiences throughout the UK, Europe and North America, December 1st sees the release of his much-anticipated new studio album, i/o – 12 songs with accompanying artwork by 12 artists including Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson & Cornelia Parker.
After a years-worth of full moon releases, I’m very happy to see all these new songs back together on the good ship i/o and ready for their journey out into the world.Peter Gabriel
Recorded mostly at Real World Studios and Peter’s home studio, the lengthy gestation of i/o means it has a sizeable cast list. Peter has kept his trusty inner circle of musicians close to hand, which means guitarist David Rhodes, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Manu Katché are sterling presences throughout. Several songs bear the fingerprints of long-time associate Brian Eno, whilst there are notable contributions from Richard Russell, pianist Tom Cawley, trumpeters Josh Shpak and Paolo Fresu, cellist Linnea Olsson. Keyboard player Don E. Peter’s daughter Melanie contributes warm backing vocals, as does Ríoghnach Connolly of The Breath. At the same time, Real World regulars Richard Chappell, Oli Jacobs, Katie May and Richard Evans collectively provide programming and play various instruments. Soweto Gospel Choir and Swedish all-male choir Oprhei Drängar lend their magnificent harmonies to a selection of tracks, and the mass strings of the New Blood Orchestra, led by John Metcalfe, both soothe and soar.
Continuing the idea developed for Peter’s US and UP albums, he has worked with art dealer/curator Virginia Damtsa and graphic designer Marc Bessant. to invite a range of visual artists to contribute a piece of art to accompany the music and each of i/o’s 12 songs were handed to a world-renowned artist to create an accompanying work, whether paint, photography, sculpture or even Plasticine. The dozen artists make an exceedingly impressive team of collaborators: Ai Weiwei, Nick Cave, Olafur Eliasson, Henry Hudson, Annette Messager, Antony Micallef, David Moreno, Cornelia Parker, Megan Rooney, Tim Shaw, David Spriggs and Barthélémy Toguo.
“When I was a teenager, and my parents were splitting up, I remember it was a difficult period, and my father played Peter Gabriel’s music to get through this time. His music served as an escape from these challenging moments and allowed me to envision a different world. I have to say that his music is part of both my generation and my parents’ generation. I grew up with it, and his song “Fourteen Black Paintings” was a total inspiration for me. It not only allowed me to hear music but also to see art and poetry. For me, his music is art. Having been in the art world for 30 years, art is as essential to me as music, and the combination of both is a total power.
I remember meeting Peter a few years ago at PAD (Pavilion of Art and Design). This was our first encounter. Then again at Frieze, he told me about his fascinating idea of bringing art and music together and commissioning one artist per song. I told him, “I am your woman; I will help you pull this amazing project together. So, it happened. Peter, myself, and his graphic designer Marc Bessant put our heads together and went through thousands of artists. I was totally impressed with Peter’s knowledge of art. For myself, it was an amazing experience to bring art to his music together.”Virginia Damtsa – Art dealer/Curator
Since 6th January each track from the album has been released on the full moon of each month. The 12th full moon on Monday 27th November sees the release of the 12th song from the album. The artwork is the packshot image accompanying those monthly digital releases, so art and music are connected on all the digital platforms. Peter has also talked about each piece or art and each artist in his month full moon video updates on YouTube and social media. The physical album formats (LP, 2CD and 2CD+Bluray) are released on 1 December and they all come with a 32-page booklet with each piece of art associated to the relevant track on the album.
The running order of the album, with associated artists is as follows;
Panopticom – David Spriggs
The Court – Tim Shaw
Playing for Time – Annette Messager
i/o – Olafur Eliasson
Four Kinds of Horses – Cornelia Parker
Road to Joy – Ai Weiwei
So Much – Henry Hudson
Olive Tree – Barthélémy Toguo
Love Can Heal – Antony Micallef
This Is Home – David Moreno
And Still – Megan Rooney
Live and Let Live – Nick Cave