Peter Gabriel's Up, his first collection of new songs in ten years, is scheduled for release on September 24th. Basic tracks were recorded as early as 1996, with sessions at Real World in England, Youssou N'Dour's facility in Senegal and a studio in France. Gabriel's regular band -- bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche and guitarist David Rhodes -- returned for the album, along with guests including acoustic bassist Danny Thompson (Richard Thompson, Nick Drake), the Blind Boys of Alabama, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green and Daniel Lanois.
Gabriel has placed some song samples on www.petergabriel.com for fans to preview and has been offering occasional updates on the album's progress. Despite its title, Up is a collection of mostly somber songs, focusing "more at the beginning and the end of life than the middle," Gabriel said. He attributes the tone to his brother-in-law's death from cancer, the deaths of other friends and the aging of his parents. "Death has definitely been more present in the last ten years," he explained.
Among the songs previewed is "More Than This," a meditation on the possibility of life after death, which features collaborations with the Blind Boys and multi-instrumentalist/producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann). Other highlights include the first single, "The Barry Williams Show," which has nothing to do with the Brady Bunch star of the same name. Instead the song is a lively satire that takes on Jerry Springer and company with a relentlessly funky rhythm.
Up also contains two previously heard songs. There's a slightly updated version of "I Grieve," which debuted on the City of Angels soundtrack, and "Signal to Noise," featuring impassioned vocals by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which sounds vastly different from when Gabriel performed it live several years ago.
While engineer Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Sheryl Crow) finishes post-production on Up, Gabriel and the band are rehearsing for a winter tour.