'Sounds That Can't Be Made' is Marillion's 17th studio album. So they have come a long way since I first encountered them on the 'Script for a Jester's Tear' album in 1983 and then followed by the very wonderful 'Misplaced Childhood' album from 1985 which is still one of my favourite albums. The live recording of 'Welcome To The Garden Party', which was a track on the '...Jester's Tear' album, was more than brought to life as the closing track on 'Misplaced Childhood'.
If you are unfamiliar with 'Misplaced Childhood' then put it on your bucket list of things to listen to before next Tuesday. This is also when they identified as melodic rockers. These days Marillion say they have 'consistently dodged categorisation by crafting distinct, evocative music' which is indeed precisely the music they create: evocative, melodic with guitar and keyboards equally present and melodic vocals.
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So back to 'Sounds That Can't Be Made' which the band identifies on their website as progressive rock. There are eight tracks all written and produced by the band.
'Pour My Love' is gentle melodic rock with keyboards and a brief reference to slide guitar with gentle back up over the vocals on the chorus.
Gaza gently builds to a crescendo of disorganized and contrasting sounds, a small nod to the sound of the muezzin calling his faithful to prayer. The keyboards are rhythmic in their mimicry of common perceptions of Middle Eastern undertones with a discordant breakdown of wild guitar and finishing with smooth keyboards and soothing vocals. This is one of the longer songs on this album.
'Invisible Ink' leads straight into vocals and a small touch of echolalia then becoming a melodic ensemble involving the whole band. Longstanding fans will recognize this as being Very Marillion in style indeed.
'Lucky Man' starts by sounding like drips/drops of rain before a guitar takes on the rest of the introduction and moving into what can only be best described as Kate Bush territory with discordant guitar being interchanged with 'The Man with the Child in his Eyes'. Very atmospheric.
'Montreal' is more atmospheric rock, listenable and clearly Marillion in style.
'Power' is next and by now you would be fully in to appreciating another melodic, atmospheric and evocative song, clearly moving from gentle melody to power rock with melodic vocals.
'Sounds That Can't Be Made' goes straight into vocals and keyboards and again channeling other musical styles with a reference to the Blue Nile and 'The Sky Above The Rain' is a nice clear finish to this album with gentle piano intro and melodic vocals that leads us into a gentle but rhythmic song.
This album is big on vocals, big on melody with an occasional discordant phrase included and guitar styles that are very reminiscent of the 1980s which is good to note as there was much innovation and creation in music within that particular decade. There are musical references to the styles endorsed by Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Kate Bush and the Blue Nile so you can see there is a varied cross reference musically in this album. The stands out songs are 'Gaza' and 'Lucky Man'.
This is listenable and it is good to have Marillion back with a new album. Let us never forget that, when it comes to being independent and refusing to bow to the diktat of record companies Marillion led the way for many.
They pioneered the start of independent music pathways in the creation and production of music without the need for a record deal. They have the life experience to weigh up the pros and cons of both.
Whether their music is your kind or not they deserve much respect for that alone and being inspirational to many younger unsigned bands and artists. A medal for Marillion please!
Here are Marillion telling you about the album in their own words.
Steve Hogarth, vocals and lyrics, additional keyboards, guitars and percussion.
Steve Rothery, electric and acoustic guitars
Ian Mosley, drums and Percussion
Pete Trewavas, bass guitars, backing vocals, additional guitars, samples and effects
Mark Kelly, keyboards, samples and effects, backing vocals