Moving forward a good few years and shifting musical styles brings us to Marillion's revolutionary 2001 album Anoraknophobia.
Within the band's now eighteen album career, since the arrival of Steve Hogarth as lead singer in 1989, the band has reinvented themselves greatly from one album to the next. Anoraknophobia sees a more modern side to the prog-rock legends and what I think is their best album with Steve Hogarth. It must be noted that this was the first attempt in the music industry at crowdfunding with fans and this did set a fantastic precedent for the future of both Marillion themselves and the industry. Opener Between You And Me is more alternative than prog to be honest, but the guitar notes from Steve Rothery are sumptuous and Hogarth's vocal is piercing. The organ backing from Mark Kelly must also be commended highly.
Map Of The World is arguably the best offering on this LP, telling the story of a guy consistently chasing the girl of his dreams - someone who has got their entire life planned out, and all Hogarth, as the speaker, can do is hide the dejection behind his sharp dressing and chase her around, in the hope she notices him someday. This song features a trademark Marillion instrumental break and bridge, with the keyboards of Kelly and the guitars of Rothery combining to create an exemplary sound collage.
There's a lot of groove present, with The Fruit Of The Wild Rose exemplifying this perfectly. Its seven minute duration encompasses a variety of musical themes, starting with an eerie guitar riff that soon brings in the bass and Hogarth's conversational vocal. It progresses into this lighter tone of voice with the organ backing, before jumping into the chorus where it becomes a lighter sound overall. It soon returns to its thicker sound and becomes more funky towards the end. Just marvellous. The album features a different shift to usual too, with Quartz including a full-on rap segment from Hogarth in the middle of the track and throughout the song's nine minutes, it brings something new to the prog-rock table. Whilst it may not hark back to the typical forms of prog in talking about goblins and mythical beasts, Quartz brings it right up to the present day, entwining various different elements of modern music to keep it moving with the times.
Anoraknophobia is one of the best Marillion albums and by comparison to some, it's one more people should take notice of and devote time to. There's something for everyone here and its groovy nature, combined with the stalwart features of prog-rock combine to create something brilliantly left-field.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/2Dd7mO4
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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