How to Measure a Planet?

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How to Measure a Planet?
The Gathering - How To Measure a Planet.jpg
Studio album by
Released9 November 1998
RecordedJuly–October 1998
StudioBauwhaus Studios, Amsterdam and Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, Netherlands
LabelCentury Media
ProducerAttie Bauw
The Gathering chronology
Nighttime Birds
How to Measure a Planet?
if then else
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Chronicles of Chaos7/10[2]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal7/10[3]
Rock Hard10/10[4]

How to Measure a Planet? is the fifth studio album by the Dutch alternative rock band The Gathering. It was released as a double CD on 9 November 1998 by Century Media Records. The album was recorded at Bauwhaus Studios, Amsterdam and Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum between July and October 1998 under the guidance of producer Attie Bauw.

The theme of space travel runs through many of the songs on the album as well as on the cover and CD booklet.

The track "Liberty Bell" was released as a single in Europe, as well as in Canada on a bonus CD distributed with issue 12 of the metal magazine Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles.

Upon release, the album received positive reviews from critics who appreciated the band's absorption of new styles such as shoegaze and trip hop into its sound. However, many fans of the more metallic side of the group were not so pleased and it sold about two-thirds as much as its two predecessors (although some slippage should have been expected, given it was a more expensive two-CD package). Many of the Gathering's fans did stay with the band and, as the members have said, it brought them a whole new fanbase.

How to Measure a Planet? remains something of a high point for the Gathering, with tracks from the album making up the majority of their two subsequent live albums, Superheat (2000) and Sleepy Buildings (2004).

In Japan, a one-CD version of the album was released, omitting the nearly half-hour title track.


Having already achieved some moderate success with Mandylion and Nighttime Birds, the group felt trapped in an artistically controlled corner, which was very limited due to the high expectations from their fan base.

Following the departure of guitarist Jelmer Wiersma, the remaining members of The Gathering decided they needed a change in musical direction. Having only one guitar player implied more space for different elements. Acknowledging the likes of Radiohead's OK Computer and Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and the growing influence of such shoegaze bands as Slowdive and the more ethereal sounds of 4AD bands such as Dead Can Dance, the group took the opportunity to experiment with their sound and reinvent themselves.

Under guidance from producer Attie Bauw, the band embraced innovative recording techniques and a will to experiment, turning away from the standard structuring of their previous recordings. The group developed a different sound, less bombastic, more transparent, which vastly expanded the group's creative spectrum and style.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Anneke van Giersbergen.

Disc one
1."Frail (You Might as Well Be Me)"René Rutten, Frank Boeijen5:04
2."Great Ocean Road"Rutten, Hugo Prinsen Geerligs6:19
3."Rescue Me"Rutten6:22
4."My Electricity"Van Giersbergen3:32
5."Liberty Bell"Rutten6:01
6."Red Is a Slow Colour"Rutten6:26
7."The Big Sleep"Boeijen5:01
9."Travel"Rutten, Boeijen9:06
Disc two
1."South American Ghost Ride"Boeijen4:25
3."Locked Away"Van Giersbergen3:24
4."Probably Built in the Fifties"Rutten7:26
5."How to Measure a Planet?"Rutten, Prinsen Geerligs28:33


The Gathering


  • Attie Bauw - producer, engineer, mixing, programming, some percussion, arrangements with The Gathering
  • Chris Blair - mastering at Abbey Road Studios, London


Chart (1998) Peak
Dutch Albums Chart[6] 45
German Albums Chart[7] 99


  1. ^ True, Chris. "The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet review?". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  2. ^ Azevedo, Pedro (16 January 1999). "The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet?". Chronicles of Chaos. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  3. ^ Popoff, Martin (August 1, 2007). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-894959-62-9.
  4. ^ Kaiser, Boris (December 1998). "Review Dynamit: The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet?". Rock Hard (in German). No. 139. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  5. ^ "The Gathering: How to Measure a Planet?". Sputnikmusic. August 26, 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  6. ^ "The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet?". Dutch (in Dutch). Media Control Charts. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  7. ^ "The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet? (album)" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 27 December 2016.