Friday 6 January 2023

Peter Gabriel: Panopticom

Peter Gabriel has just released the first single from his long-awaited new album, I/O.

Let's just reflect on the significance of that. When I say "long-awaited" about a Peter Gabriel album, I really mean it. This album has been 20 years in the making. Peter Gabriel is the Leonardo da Vinci of rock - an absolute genius, but he takes forever to get anything done.

Anyway, here's the song. It's called Panopticom .

Lyrically, it's about how information is more available than ever before. Peter recognises the sinister side to this - the title refers to Jeremy Bentham's idea of the panopticon, the perfect prison where all prisoners are under constant surveillance (so presumably have to change their ways because they can't get away with anything) and there's a reference to the Stasi in the second verse. But Peter Gabriel is an optimist, and the song is mainly about the potential of citizen journalism to make us all better informed and hold those in power to account (as his charity Witness seeks to do). The key line of the chorus is Let's find out what's going on. Having worked in two media organisations and done independent research on Fake News Detection, I find this resonates with me, and it's good that the optimism of the early Internet is still alive.

Musically, Peter's in fine voice, there's some nice guitar work from David Rhodes, and Brian Eno adds some atmospheric synths.

I'd say it's worth keeping an eye on Peter Gabriel.

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