Peter Gabriel

Passion (Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ)

Peter Gabriel -  Passion (Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ) ©1989 Geffen
1. The Feeling Begins
2. Gethesmane
3. Of These, Hope
4. Lazarus Raised
5. Of These, Hope- Reprise
6. In Doubt
7. A Different Drum
8. Zaar
9. Troubled
10. Open!
11. Before Night Falls
12. With This Love
13. Sandstorm
14. Stigmata
15. Passion
16. With This Love- Choir
17. Wall Of Breath
18. The Promise Of Shadows
19. Disturbed
20. It Is Accomplished
21. Bread And Wine

Peter Gabriel's Passion is a kind of religious experience marketed as a an album. It is fitting, I suppose, that it was composed and scored for Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ". Even disregarding the obvious Christian element in the music, one is still left with a deep, spiritual experience - that unique spirituality that only great art can provide. To call the music diverse would be a gross understatement and quite frankly, laughable. The music ranges from vaguely progressive rock currents, to trancy electronic percussion, to authentic Middle Eastern and African folk music, to ambient music and then comes full circle with Bach-like pseudo Baroque pieces performed on keyboard. This diversity is essential to the character of the album - as eclectic as the music is, it always seems unified, tied together with broad transcendent themes.

The percussion and intense electronic element is brought into play right from the start, with an intense droning beat serving the foundation for electronics, ethnic instruments and a nice exotic violin theme (played by Shankar no less). Most of the more contemporary, electronics laden music has its roots in the music of the Mediterranean and the network of regions tied to it - with many themes directly lifted (with due credit) from folk tunes of ages past. Towards the middle of the album, the music loses some of the earlier experimentation and concerns itself primarily with authentic regional music (to get that Biblical flavor of course) and somewhat New Agey, "inspirational" flavors. The album then proceeds to weird out again for awhile, taking an occasional break to bathe the listener in warm pseudo-baroque textures - these have a nice demystifying quality and give the Westerners what they want. The album ends much the same way it begins, but with a more resounding, positive vibe prevailing.

Passion is clearly an attempt by Gabriel at creating a unified spiritual message by drawing on several international influences and unifying them under one singular religious banner. Christianity is forwarded as a holistic world religion, unifying humanity despite of its obvious cultural differences and diversity. While I disagree with the central beliefs of the Christian faith, I can respect and admire the holistic approach that Gabriel has taken with handling the score. In a sense he has created a very real symbol of a holistic and unified human spirit, one of unity and diversity. Passion is passionate art.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 05/2000

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