“Inside The Real World” - A closer look at Peter Gabriel’s new recording studio and his ideas for the Real World Theme Park by Ted Sayers.

What is the real world? Maybe this is one of life’s great questions but now there is a most definite REAL WORLD. For Real World now has a threefold purpose; it is a hi-tech recording studio, a record label which should open the market to world music, and an experience park which Peter Gabriel hopes to open - somewhere in the world - the real world!

The one common thread in all three of course is Peter Gabriel. For many years it has been Peter’s dream to open a “total” experience park which will offer the visitor the opportunity to find him/herself in some very strange situations. In a way it takes the 3D cinema one (or even two) stages further. It is entertainment and the chance to face your deepest fears - the hall of mirrors will soon be redundant.

The park is still in the planning stage and so far a few cities throughout the world have been prospective sites. At the moment, Cologne in Germany is favourite but that may change. So, this real world is not yet part of the real world, but the studio and the record label most definitely are!

Since June this year, Real World Records have become a going concern. The label was launched by five albums including Peter’s own Passion album (see review in TWR #8) and Passion Sources. The other three are by Pakistan’s Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Cuba’s Orquesta Reve and Zaire’s Afrisa International Orchestra.

The label and the studio hope to open the western market to world music but, as Peter has stated, Real World is open to all, so western musicians aren’t excluded. The studios themselves will have cost around five million pounds in all with leases etc, so recording time will not be cheap! The studio hopes to capture performances of real passion and so it is possible that many of the recordings could be done in single takes (if the passion can be mustered, that is!).

The label is a partnership between WOMAD and Peter and the studio is a converted flour mill not far from Bath. For five million pounds the studio is obviously filled with the latest recording equipment but it remains to be seen if the studio will be able to pay for itself. It is hoped for Peter’s and WOMAD’s collective (financial) sakes that it can as once again, Peter has taken a big gamble.

The label already has three more albums lined up for August releases. All Real World albums will be manufactured, marketed and distributed by Virgin Records worldwide so, obviously there is a vast amount of money behind the project.