Continue and follow that moon, Peter, blinded by gilded light and ripples of hope for an acceptable project stretched beyond its breaking point. Mixtures of bright and dark with barely a difference between the two mean whichever track is listened to first is, likely, the favourite of the two. Is he, as this track suggests, Playing for Time (Bright-Side Mix)? He probably isn’t playing for time. To his credit, Gabriel has found an angle for his latest album which makes the concept of release a slow burn. In an age where attention spans are warped because of brief clips, perhaps releasing albums like a barista serving slices of moreish cake, is the best way to go. Playing for Time is a nice effort.
Staggered and melodic, punctual but soulful, Playing for Time is a defenceless track. Gabriel strips himself down to nothing but his voice and a piano. Clothing too. Taking time away from the weekly releases, or whenever the moon allows for them, gives Gabriel’s fresh and frequent releases a working right as singles. Put together in an album and it would sound like a car crash, should they be ordered in that of releases so far. Playing For Time is an introspective masterclass from Gabriel. Tenderness of this variety is usually reserved for Randy Newman soundtrack tunes, but here Gabriel comes with this gorgeous and loving Bright-Side Mix. A track where its length is most important of all. Playing For Time has plenty of time to play with, the melodic rise a constant force for those first four minutes.
It builds and builds, inevitably, to some burst or release. Just after the sun rises and Gabriel looks on to a future he will not experience, Playing For Time brings itself together. A masterful, albeit staggered string section, backs his grace with tremendous effect. He studies the aftershock of the world’s great events and makes poignant lyrical assertions on blindness to the cause or fear of it. Playing For Time is nothing short of gifted, and a real triumph for Gabriel, who finds himself with his best track of the i/o experience so far. Gabriel assembles his memories and brings in Tom Cawley’s wonderful piano work. Benefitting greatly from these moments, Gabriel appears to benefit from the longer form not only because it works for the tempo taken but for observing roads he cannot travel.
Gabriel has made music since the 1960s, and it is a strange and wonderful feeling to see great creatives enter their twilight years of work. Martin Scorsese recently revealed he, only now, understands the scope and point of his efforts and how he cannot go back and change what he did. He cannot make what he wants to because he does not have the time. Gabriel appears in touch with that line of thought on Playing For Time, a remarkable track not only for its Newman-like approach, but for its genuine nature, its spirited generosity and a major shift in tone from the largely absent feeling of The Court or the diminished, yet still appealing, powers of Panopticom.