The usual hesitations behind releasing a record in December seemed to matter fuck all to legend Peter Gabriel, who kicked off the month with his first studio album of original material since 2002, which he had been tracking since as far back as 1995. i/o’s nearly 30 years in development did not go to waste either, as this may be his richest and most densely produced record since the ’80s. The man even released three separate mixes of the record, each highlighting enough new subtleties in the production to make any of them a reasonable candidate for “the definitive version”. Peter approaches the sonic palate here blending electronics and traditional instrumentation perhaps the furthest he’s ever gone, spanning a range from beautiful, lush, and sprawling orchestration (“Playing for Time”) to tightly constructed borderline sculptural beats that almost sound assembled in a musical junkyard out of any scrap he could find (“The Court”). This is a notably more patient and subdued record than some of his bombastic and thunderous early work (understandably so at 73 years old), but even a few throwback bangers rear their head and show the man can still sell jubilant pop tunes overflowing with vibrancy, most notably the exhilarating “Olive Tree”. It’s the title track however, a warm and moving piece on universal connectedness that only feels more earnest and resonant in Peter’s old age, that serves as the heart of the whole project. Although i/o admittedly falls short of the unfairly high bar set by his legendary first four solo albums, it’s recognizably the product of every lesson that Peter Gabriel learned throughout his career and was exactly the album it needed to be.