On Sunday 5 February, Peter Gabriel releases the Dark-Side Mix of The Court, the second song from his forthcoming album i/o. The Sunday release coincides with this month’s full moon.
The track is accompanied by a cover image featuring the work of artist and sculptor Tim Shaw.
Written and produced by Peter Gabriel, The Court was recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire and The Beehive in London, and features contributions from Brian Eno alongside Tony Levin, David Rhodes and Manu Katché, as well as backing vocals from Peter’s daughter Melanie Gabriel. The orchestral arrangement is by John Metcalfe with Peter Gabriel and was recorded at British Grove Studios in London with a number of players who previously featured in the New Blood Orchestra.
‘I had this idea for ‘the court will rise’ chorus, so it became a free-form, impressionistic lyric that connected to justice, but there’s a sense of urgency there. A lot of life is a struggle between order and chaos and in some senses the justice or legal system is something that we impose to try and bring some element of order to the chaos. That’s often abused, it’s often unfair and discriminatory but at the same time it’s probably an essential part of a civilised society. But we do need to think sometimes about how that is actually realised and employed.’
The song is partly inspired by the work of NAMATI whose mission is to provide people around the world access to justice they may not otherwise be able to afford. ‘I recommend you check them out,’ says Gabriel. ‘They do a brilliant job assembling teams around the world to help with different issues.’
Just like the previous song Panopticom, The Court will come with differing mix approaches from Tchad Blake (Dark-Side Mix), Mark ‘Spike’ Stent (Bright-Side Mix) and Hans-Martin Buff’s Atmos In-Side Mix. The Dark-Side Mix is available on 5 February, with the other mixes to follow.
‘I quite like this idea of the multiple mix approach because for most artists it’s the process, not the product, that is most important. In some ways, I’m trying to open up the process a little more for those that are interested.’
Each new release of music comes with a specific piece of art and the cover for The Court depicts the ritual installation Lifting the Curse by Tim Shaw. The work was originally created to literally lift the curse put that was issued to the Royal Academy and its members by the artists Gilbert & George, but is also addresses a wider gathering of dark forces with particular reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The ritual burning was Royal Academy member Shaw’s visceral and robust response to them both.
‘Tim Shaw is a great artist whose work is powerful, political and shamanistic. He has often dealt with tough themes such as war and torture. He grew up in Belfast so experienced the fear and reality of seeing violence around him, which I am sure must have made a deep impression. This particular image has an unusual story attached, but I just responded to the photograph of this very strange figure that was being ritualistically burnt. The story behind it, I only discovered afterwards.’
‘I don’t know why that particular image was chosen for this track,’ says Tim Shaw ‘but thinking about it, it could be that when you look at the figure perhaps it stands there to be accused, judged and in this case it’s burnt as a punishment process that takes place.’
Cover photo: The Burning of Lifting the Curse, 2022, by Tim Shaw. Photography by Steve Tanner