Saturday, June 26, 2010
sacred songs : the lamia
the lamb lies down on broadway ... by genesis
a rock opera about a modern odysseus
his name is rael hes a graffiti artist from puerto rico
but the story takes place in new york
this album was genesis' full flowering and their final masterpiece
before peter gabriel left
rael is trapped in some mystical nightmare/quest
after many adventures he comes to a strange chamber
waiting for him are the lamia
creatures straight out of greek mythology
the bodies of snakes , the faces of women
the music is superb
by this stage of the game
the interplay between tony banks on keys
and steve hacket on guitar is unique and almost classical
in its ambitions and proportions.....
banks the master of the constant arpeggio
hacket using his guitar like trumpets and french horns
as far away from yer usual hamfisted rock fodder as you can get
gabriels lyrics are pure poetry
his voice is mysterious powerful earthy and pure
lost in some 5th dimensional labyrinth
our hero rael comes along a hall and finds
the chamber and a pool containing the lamia
a beautiful lilting piano sets the scene
in small instrumental sequences by gabriels flute
"inside a long rosewater pool is shrouded by fine mist"
"but ripples on the sweeping water reveal some company unthought of"
"3 vermilion snakes with female face the smallest motion filled with grace"
they greet him
"rael welcome we are the lamia of the pool
we have been waiting for our waters to bring you cool"
the music is spine tingling and gorgeous
everything just perfect
building to a wagnerian like crescendo
the guitar darting in and out of the grandiose mellotron
then back down to a lonely piano figure
like something out of rachmaninoff
rael decides to join them
"he slips into the nectar leaving his shredded clothes behind"
"with their tongues they test taste and judge all that is mine"
gabriel now switches into the first person as he does throughout
the whole of the lamb
he is rael and he is also the narrator
"they move in a series of caresses that glide up n down my spine"
the lamia begin to eat rael
as the lamia in greek myth devours its own children
"as they nibble the fruit of my flesh i feel no pain
only a magic that a name would stain"
(what a beautiful line!)
but something is amiss
the unlucky rael is too profane for these creatures...
"with the 1st drop of my blood in my veins
their faces are convulsed in mortal pain
the fairest cries
" we all have loved you rael!""
"each empty snake like body floats
silent sorrow in empty boats
a sickly sourness fills the room
the bitter harvest of a dying bloom"
rael decides to eat their bodies
" oh lamia your flesh that remains i will take as my food"
then a very strange line
"it is the scent of garlic which lingers on my chocolate fingers"
then an instrumental interlude
the piano and portamento synth intertwine
then a stately organ appears like bach or something
"looking behind me
the waters turn icy blue
the lights are dimmed
and once again
the stage is set for you"
then flute guitar and mellotron go out in a magnificent coda
the meaning of all this?
the esoteric symbolism
the beauty sadness and triumph
its a fantastic example of how arcane and spiritual rock can be
the opposite of ac/dc or their meatheaded ilk
this music this song is loaded with inspiration for thought
you can listen to it for 36 years like me
and still get that hit of the wonderful unknown
the hairs on yer neck will stand to attention everytime
an eldritch thrill
the sexual cannibalistic myth of the lamia
the fucking lovely music
gabriels perfect singing
you better get this one now and prepare to start digging it