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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Peter Gabriel Releases The Last Track 'Live and Let Live' From New Album i/o


By Stevie Connor.



The twelfth full moon of 2023, sees the release of the final track to be revealed from Peter Gabriel’s new album i/o. This final song, the last to be written for the album, is called "Live and Let Live".

In a break from previous months, all three mixes are released simultaneously, the Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, the Dark-Side Mix by Tchad Blake and the Atmos In-Side Mix by Hans-Martin Buff. The song is accompanied by the striking ‘Soundsuit’ artwork of Chicago based artist Nick Cave.

Written and produced by Peter Gabriel, "Live and Let Live" is a song about forgiveness, tolerance and optimism. A joyous, rousingly-positive closing note for the album.

‘Music can be like a box of mood pills that we can use to treat ourselves and a lot of the work of the Reverberation project is focused on that sort of idea. When someone suggested that forgiveness might be a topic to write about, at first, I thought, ‘that's not interesting to me,’ but then I remembered two things. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was the chair of The Elders and a real mentor for me, led the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa and that really allowed people to expose, report and maybe feel again some of the horrors of the apartheid era. I remember he always said that listening made a huge difference, just making sure people felt heard and recognized. Then, sometimes, it created a space for forgiveness.

There's also a description that Nelson Mandela gave when he was released from jail after 27 years in prison and found himself about to become president of South Africa, standing next to some of the people who'd been responsible for keeping him in jail all that time. He said he felt some of the old fear and hatred swelling up inside him but when he thought hard about it, he realized that he needed to find a way to work with these people, to build what he called his rainbow coalition. He needed to feel their humanity and ultimately to find a way to forgive them. He was quite sure that if he couldn't forgive them and find a way to work with them, that he would remain their prisoner for the rest of his days.

Now, I know if we look at what's happening in the Middle East now or in Ukraine, all sorts of places around the world where there's still violence and brutality, to walk around with a bunch of flowers, preaching forgiveness seems trite and pathetic, maybe. But in the long run, I think people have to find a way. ‘Peace only happens when you respect the rights of others’ is a quote from the Peace University in Costa Rica and I think that's a really important message for me and for my life. You either belong to that hurt or you free yourself and forgiveness is clearly a super effective way of freeing yourself.’

"Live and Let Live", the last song to have been written for the album, features contributions from many players already heard on other songs, such as Tony Levin, David, Rhodes, Manu Katché, Brian Eno, Melanie Gabriel, John Metcalfe and the New Blood Orchestra. Notable other contributions come from Steve Gadd ‘wonderful grooves created with brushes’ that are looped at the start of the song, some beautiful trumpet by Paolo Fresu ‘soulful and poetic’ and the return of the singers of Soweto Gospel choir ‘great voices and this deep soulfulness, their additions are always wonderful for me.’

‘Nick Cave does a lot performance, movement and dance work, but these extraordinary figures, for which he is best known, ‘Soundsuits’, are amazing. They are like armour. Beneath all this exuberant colour you can’t actually sense the race, the class, the wealth or the gender of the person wearing the Soundsuit, so, you have that sense that you are not going to get attacked for pre-conceived ideas about who you are or what people like you are like… it’s a very positive spin on a negative situation. Nick’s work is very interesting and unusual and I am very glad that he was happy to be part of this.’

Not simply a collection of a dozen songs, all of i/o’s 12 tracks are subject to two stereo mixes: the Bright-Side Mix, handled by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, and the Dark-Side Mix, as reshaped by Tchad Blake. Both versions are included on the double-CD package, and are also available separately as double vinyl albums. And that’s not all. A third version – the In-Side Mix, in Dolby Atmos, comes courtesy of Hans-Martin Buff and is included in three-disc set, including Blu-ray. A Box Set version is also available, released in March 2024.

i/o is 12 tracks of grace, gravity and great beauty that provide welcome confirmation of not only Peter’s ongoing ability to write stop-you-in-your-tracks songs but also of that thrilling voice, still perfectly, delightfully intact. Throughout the album the intelligent and thoughtful – often thought-provoking – songs tackle life and the universe. Our connection to the world around us – ‘I’m just a part of everything’ – is a recurring motif, but so too the passing of time, mortality and grief, alongside such themes as injustice, surveillance and the roots of terrorism. While reflective, the mood is never despondent; i/o is musically adventurous, often joyous and ultimately full of hope, topped off as it is, by the rousingly optimistic closing song, Live and Let Live.

Artwork by Nick Cave



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