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Peter Hammill - A Black Box CD (album) cover

A BLACK BOX

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 152 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

laplace
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Another sign that Peter Hammill's name is synonymous with quality.

The album's title suggests a loose concept based on flight (as further propounded by the eponymous epic that has side B all to itself) but the music within can just as easily describe the aftermath of a disaster, or more likely (and this reviewer's personal theory is that it's about) claustrophobia; "Fogwalking", which is a languid, distorted and remorseful slow rocker, alludes to being isolated from others by city fog (although there are as many layers of metaphor at work as the haze they detail) while "Losing Faith in Words" - a piano-driven, somewhat disdainful piece which would translate well into a VdGG song - is about the problems with everyday communication. Additionally, to this reviewer, "The Jargon King" (which has an isolationist theme) and "The Wipe" represent via experimentalism the extraneous information we are confronted with and try to ignore. Mr. Hammill always seems lost or stranded in some idea, and those two words crop up frequently in his lyrics - this time he's stuck in a sea of people with no meaningful conversation. Trapped inside his own Black Box; safe and silent.

"Flight" has wonder and romance to it, fairly cosy and intimate for an epic with great thought put into the actual sound of the chosen instrumentation, and easily the most beautiful song on the album. Purists will baulk at the drum sound (and perhaps the strained analogy which eats up most of the lyric content), which at times is either compressed or synthetic, but this reviewer allows artists more freedom than that.

You won't find the VdGG sound in many places on this album (although Two Sax Jax tags along), but then that's not what you should be looking for on a Hammill solo album. Come for the intriguing theme and stay for the sincere and powerful emotion. Four stars because "The Spirit" is far too conventional a rocker to sit comfortably next to the seven great songs that make up "A Black Box" - another example of an album where the omission of one track would improve the whole. Even so, this is excellent.

laplace | 4/5 |

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