It's all about the song. Just as with last year's O2 Arena shows where Gabriel redrew the works of Lou Reed, Radiohead and Elbow using the full-colour palette of a large orchestra, his latest project New Blood has a similar modus operandi - but this time he applies the orchestral makeover entirely to his own back catalogue.
With accompaniment from the 46-piece New Blood orchestra under the eye of master-arranger John Metcalfe and the baton of Ben Foster, Gabriel's vocals are centre-stage and bare, stripped of the usual rock'n'roll clothing, no loud guitars or booming drums to hide behind. The lyrics take on extra potency and poignancy; few concerts come remotely close to matching the intensity here. Gabriel is the lone sailor to the orchestra's ocean, the massed strings providing calm waters before rising up into dramatic swells. And recasting this classic material in this manner has created a unified whole - a suite, no less - where, as The Guardian observed, "each song whispers its secrets into the next".
Raw and soul-baring yet passionate and often joyous, Gabriel's songs here take new shape and extra meaning, guaranteed to bewitch the Hammersmith Apollo audience and create an extraordinarily intimate and gripping occasion. A night to remember and revisit.
"As Gabriel demonstrated so ably, there are places in the soul that electric guitar, bass and drums, for all their visceral excitement, still can't reach" - LA Times
The last few weeks here at the Studios has been a hive of activity for Real World artists. Samuel Yirga has been in the Big Room mixing his forthcoming album - a glorious mix of Ethio-jazz, solo piano and soul - including an uplifting version of Black Gold of the Sun featuring Nicolette (Massive Attack) and The Creole Choir of Cuba on guest vocals. Watch out for the full release later in the summer.
Meanwhile next door in the Wooden Studio Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara in their newly reinvented JuJu style were recording live - moving from psychedelic Afro-trance to raw rock energy. Expect to hear this on a new release in May.
Today sees the release of Knee Deep in the North Sea, remixed and remastered by John Leckie and committed to glorious vinyl. As a bonus for vinyl purchasers, you will receive a unique download code with which you can access all the tracks as 320kbps MP3s. You will also get a digital booklet. Not only that but we're also giving you four extra tracks which appear on the CD version: Prickly Pear, All The Pieces Matter (live), Knee-Deep In The North Sea (live), Steps in the Wrong Direction (live).
Tuesday night in London's Momo club saw the start of what promises to be an outstanding live career for rising star, pianist Samuel Yirga. Accompanied on this performance with a line-up of sax, drums, bass and percussion, Samuel dazzled the packed crowd with his flying fingers and sensuous Ethiojazz groove.
Following the fantastic reviews for both the live shows and the release of the CD, Tande-la, The Creole Choir Of Cuba appear in a fascinating documentary on SkyArts.
An intriguing insight into the story behind the Choir and how they have brought the history of their Haitian descendants to life.
The documentary will be aired on SkyArts Wednesday 16th February at 11.50am and Friday 18th February at 9.45pm or, you can watch it online now!
One of the most highly anticipated releases of 2011 is now available. The rising star, not just of Central America, but international music, Aurelio is a '..star in the making' (London Evening Standard). This lush and beautiful album, brilliantly produced, is set to become an instant classic.
"This promises to be one of the albums of the year." ****
"The first essential world music disc of the year." ****
The Sunday Times
"An impressive album that simply sounds better which each new listening."
"A wonderful collection, it confirms Aurelio's distinctive, personal style." *****
Songlines (Top of the World album)
"The moods likewise flow between reflection, sadness and joy on an outstanding, surprise-filled offering."
"A rising star." *****
"A potentially major figure to watch." ****
The Daily Telegraph
"A texturally and emotionally involving treasure." *****
The Independent on Sunday
Portico Quartet are at the start of their UK tour - a double bill with Penguin Cafe. Seen here at the soundcheck to their sold out show at London's Barbican where the line of fans hoping for ticket returns testified to the beguiling power of their music. Catch them at further dates around the country until 21 February.
The Creole Choir Of Cuba have a busy day today at BBC Broadcasting House. They are guests on the Robert Elms Show on BBC Radio London (94.9 FM) at 2.30pm, where they will chat to Robert and perform live.
Then on to BBC Radio 3 In Tune, presented by Sean Rafferty, where the choir will perform three songs live, beginning at 5.15pm.
Tune in, or listen again!
The UK tour is in full swing, with The Barbican tomorrow then Croydon, Bury St Edmunds, Manchester, Birmingham, Basingstoke, Southampton, Chichester & Nottingham
Portico Quartet have begun their much anticipated UK tour with Penguin Café. They perform at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester this evening then off to Barbican, Basingstoke, Warwick, Bristol, Northampton, Brighton, Gateshead and Edingburgh
The Barbican has sold out but there are still a few tickets available for the regional dates!
Re-released on Real World Records, Knee-Deep In The North Sea has been remixed by John Leckie (The Stone Roses, Radiohead, Muse and producer of Isla) and features three new tracks.
Watch this new film about the making of the album, featuring behind the scenes footage of the band sound checking at their recent London concert.
Editors Jazz Choice - Knee-Deep In The North Sea makes Number 1 in Play.com's pre-order download chart.
"Nominated for the Mercury Prize and rightly considered a modern masterpiece, Knee-Deep In The North Sea is the breathtaking debut from Portico Quartet. Fusing modern jazz with a psychedelic twist, the Londoners continually push the boundaries, resulting in a thrilling listen." play.com