"Confronted with the unavoidable sensory overload and the galloping synchronisation of senses it is getting increasingly difficult to invent sounds and melodies that are standing individually for themselves and only for themselves without going into extremes. The Dutch band the Gathering has accomplished just that achievement with their ninth album Home. But up to that piece of art, it took them a long way full of creative skinning, self-conquest and a strong striving towards perfection of sound.
the Gathering with singer Anneke van Giersbergen, René Rutten [guitar], drummer Hans Rutten, Marjolein Kooijman [bass] and Frank Boeijen [keyboards] have unmistakably reached a new level with Home. In full view of their musical achievements over the last one and a half decade, they again dive in the unfathomed deep. Letting go of all stylistic hooks, the band is simply celebrating the music. The new songs seem to come from a land of fairy-tales, each track a jewel in itself. Our music is and always was its own source of inspiration, Anneke van Giersbergen explains. Things that we see, feel and experience every day. Some experiences are simple and positive, others complex and challenging. On the new album we emphasize three aspects of human life, the hectic roller coaster of our time, the life-changing events and the dissolving, soothing atmosphere of inner happiness. All this set to words and music. One might ask how it all fits into a musical genre. These songs fill the complete array of pop music, sometimes with a warm, dark impact, sometimes with a light, refreshing up-tempo sound. Together they tell a tale, but each in itself is an easily accessible song delighting the mind.
Right from the start, the melodies and grooves are highly contagious. But especially the carefully arranged details, generously spread over all the songs of the album, are making Home a long-lasting event with new discoveries to be made again and again. The functions within the band are blending into one another in a way that single sources of sound, instruments or starting points of ideas are hardly distinguishable. A rock band cannot sound more ****genous. Like the soft meander of a peaceful stream, Anneke's voice is winding through a variegated riverbed lined with beguiling instrumental sounds. Some of the songs are downright hypnotising. It is left to the listener whether he wants to pick his favourites from the album or perceive it like an integral garden or a monolithic sculpture.
Respect is due to the band for not calculating commerce. Without yielding to cheap provocations - on the contrary, the album caresses the ear from the first to the last note - it avoids reaching for a market segment or satisfying expectations. Home in its overbearing beauty is too complex to be described with a handeddown catch-phrase or a common slogan. In all its harmony and relaxed diversity, the album is the result of a long and collective struggle with creative processes that have not always been without pain. What counts in the end is the result. the Gathering are sending the senses on a journey, translating images into sounds and leaving the completion to the imagination of the listener, hovering slightly above the ground and penetrating deeply the soul of everybody who comes into contact with their sounds. With due caution of superlatives, Home is coming close to the ideal of a perfectly harmonious pop album, nonetheless thrilling in every single note.
The start of the Gathering roots back to the year 1989. Close to the Dutch small town Oss, the brothers Hans and René Rutten founded the band that was later called the Gathering together with Bart Smits and other friends. Right from the start they decided to avoid the easy and obvious paths and meticulously modelled the individual band sound. At weekly rehearsals, they worked their way from the mutual basis heavy metal to other musical styles until their first demo-tape An Imaginary Symphony summarised the early experiences in 1990. Their straight metal sound interwoven with keyboards was received with enthusiasm by the press even back then. More demos followed, until in 1991 the band was supporting tours by high metal-calibre bands like Death and Morbid Angel.
Finally, in 1992 the first complete album Always... was released. Stylistically positioned between Gothic and Doom, The Gathering continuously built up their fan base and toured even Israel. But in spite of their increasing popularity the band had to pay a high price for their innocence in business affairs and was nearly smashed in their struggle with their record company of the time. Half-heartedly, another album with new band members was released but soon done away with. Not until in 1994 they came across singer Anneke van Giersbergen, courage revived. With her clear voice trained by jazz and classic, the young vocalist set new accents, opened spaces and perspectives that thus far seemed to have been closed to the band. In 1995, the extremely successful album Mandylion with its dense atmosphere showed a group that had not only discovered new inspiration, but also got along great with each other. Two years later, they travelled all over Europe with the fourth long-player Nighttime Birds in their baggage.
With the new double album How To Measure A Planet? the band underwent a drastic turn from metal to more complex sounds. This change of mind brought them a long US tour. With new self-confidence, re-mastered versions of earlier albums where being released at the end of the millennium and in 2000, two new Albums were released: the live album Superheat and the stylistically wide-ranging studio opus if_then_else. In 2002 the mini CD Black Light District followed as a gift to the fans. In 2003 the release of Souvenirs was a new milestone in the Gathering's career. For this album the 5 musicians ultimately explored their composing skills over a 2-year recording process, which consumed virtually all powers of the band. But their quest to bring their music to the highest possible level of sound definition would be embraced by worldwide press and fan base. In 2003 the band starts touring again and in August they record the semi-acoustic live album Sleepy Buildings which contains new arrangements of songs from their earliest, more obscure albums Always… and Almost A Dance from the early '90s [performed for the very first time with the band's current line-up], their breakthrough album Mandylion, and the 2000 album if_then_else.
From upon 2004 the Gathering appear in a new line-up when previous bass player Hugo Prinsen Geerligs leaves the band by the end of 2003 shortly after the Sleepy Buildings recording session, to spend more time with his private life. Hugo is replaced by fellow townswoman Marjolein Kooijman. Supported by the fresh energy Marjolein brings to the band, they tour every notch of the world visiting 19 different countries in one year. After touring Europe end of 2004 while pregnant, singer Anneke gave birth to her first child in February 2005. The only live performance during 2005 takes place on May 23 in front of an international audience [more than thirty different nationalities!] who witnessed the recordings for a live dvd entitled A Sound Relief at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam.
2006 takes off very promising for the Gathering when in February A Sound Relief live DVD is nominated for a Dutch Edison Award [Edison is a prize for quality in Sound Recording and is the equivalent to the U.S. Grammy Award, the Brit Award, the Grand Prix du Disque in France and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis in Germany].
After the long break in order to not just come up with another album adding to the discography, but to finally reap the juicy fruits they had been sowing for such a long time, with Home the Gathering have finally proven that they are not restricted to a certain country, scene, era or conception but set their own standards that they only can meet themselves."