Peter Gabriel Goes With Guitars, Samples On First LP Since '92

Prog rocker says Up will be continuation of his latest work.

Art-rocker Peter Gabriel is close to completing his first studio album in seven years, an album that he says recalls his earlier work while tapping into sampling technology.

Up will reflect Gabriel's newfound interest in the guitar, and

will showcase sampling technology, according to a statement on www.geffen.com,

the website of Gabriel's former label, Geffen. Geffen is now part of

Interscope, which will release Up -- not to be confused with R.E.M.'s

Up (1998) or Ani DiFranco's January release, Up Up Up Up Up Up.

But Gabriel, who is producing the album, said earlier this month it won't be a

radical departure from his past solo work, which has combined the influences of funk and world music on such hits as "Sledgehammer" (RealAudio excerpt) and

"Big Time" (RealAudio excerpt).

"It's a continuation of things I had been doing," he said.

The 49-year-old singer/songwriter, who fronted prog-rockers Genesis until 1975, hasn't released a studio album since Us (1992). He released Secret World Live in 1994.

Gabriel didn't say when he expected the new album to come out, and an Interscope spokesperson said it's not on the label's release schedule. But bassist Tony Levin, who plays on Up, predicted a spring 2000 release in a statement on his personal website (www.papabear.com).

Gabriel also is working with the rest of Genesis' early-'70s lineup on a new version of that band's "Carpet Crawlers" for an upcoming greatest-hits album. And he's recording music for a multimedia exhibit in the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England. The government-funded structure, still under construction, is to be the official site for Britain's celebration of the year 2000.

The Millennium Dome music may also be featured on an album of its own, Gabriel said. Some of it is ambient and some of it is pop music, he said.

Gabriel, who spoke while attending the New York opening of "Low Flame," a multimedia exhibit created by his daughter Anna, and Adria Petty, daughter of roots-rocker Tom Petty, said working in multimedia is uniquely satisfying.

"You get [to work with] a lot of different sensory inputs; each has its own subtleties," he said. "Film is a good example -- it stimulates both the eyes and ears."

Gabriel, whose head was shaved bare and who wore a black suit and a green, open-collared shirt to the opening, has worked on other multimedia projects, including the 1994 CD-ROM "Xplora."

Levin, a veteran studio musician and member of the prog-rock group King Crimson, has chronicled his experience working on both Up and the Millennium Dome in an online diary at his website.

Levin, who is now on tour with pop singer Seal, visited Gabriel's Real World Studios in Bath, England, on April 7 and 8 to play on the projects, along with session drummer Steve Gadd. Longtime Gabriel drummer Manu Katche also is featured on some tracks, Levin wrote.

"The music is terrific, the grooves are unusual," Levin wrote of Gabriel's new music.

"Peter has so many tracks he's working on, we're referring to them as

numbers. Today we've done 96 and 35. We're about to tackle 57 -- I haven't

heard it yet, but like the title," he added.

The Genesis project, which the group reportedly has been working on since 1994, has reunited Gabriel with Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett. Trevor Horn is producing the new version of 1974's "Carpet Crawlers."

"There have been a lot of acrimonious band splits in music, and ours ended up [being] very friendly, but at that period [of] early '75, it was difficult," Gabriel said last year when the bandmembers got together to celebrate the release of the box set Genesis Archive 1967-1975. That interview is available in RealAudio at Genesis' official website (www.genesis-web.com).

(Contributing Editor Christopher O'Connor contributed to this report.)