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Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1449 ratings

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ibnacio
5 stars "Still Life, still living."

Van der Graaf Generator was not exactly one of my favourite bands of the moment, wayback in the 1970s (paraphrasing The Incredible String Band). I used to find Peter Hammill's singing unnatural and overacted. In addition, the dark aspects of the music were not my cup of tea, either. I wanted more light, being the Spanish scene quite a dark one after forty years of dictatorship, I guess.

Anyway, the Generator's music has grown or matured in me with time, like those sour or bitter tastes you get used to with the years and find pleasure in them as well as in the sweeter or milder ones. I guess it is a question of maturity.

So, after having revisited for some five years VdGG's oeuvre (the core of it, from "H to He..." to "Still Life", not in chronological order, though), I now own their music as an indispensible part of classic prog rock. And from all these four awesome albums, I must conclude "Still Life" their masterpiece for I find it is like a summary of all the best these four talented musicians were able to do with the exact balance of musicality, progressiveness, virtuosism and dark tones that any of the other three albums exceeded in one or other way.

Pilgrims kicks off with admirable organ phrasing and ambient which grows and grows till acquiring epic proportions and grandiose musicality, all of it repeated with variations on the second verse and coda.

The title theme begins in soft dark tones which turn into lyrical as Hammill unwraps his poetry on the text, a reflection on life's meaning. Then it changes with verse three to a more dinamic tempo and the band, mostly the rhythmic section, reach perfection. A perfect match of music to text.

I think never before has Hugh Banton's organ sounded better than in this album,and "La Rossa" is an example of it with its beautiful intro. After one minute, the band explodes and now we know we are in front of one of the strongest, more complex and achieved of the album's tracks, which means of VdGG's tracks. A (white) hot point. After six minutes, a short fugue resets us at full speed till the last cry : "Give me life!" with superb soloing from Banton and Jackson.

It is not my purpose to review every single track in the album, but I thought this incredible side A was worth reviewing. Just two tracks occupy side B, which continues in the mood of its reverse. "My Room" beeing more lyrical with beautiful jazzy arrangaments from Jackson while "Childlike Faith..." is a short epic reaching over twelve minutes which again reflects on life's basic questions. Hammill getting philosophical at full.

I guess those gap years the band took between "Pawn Hearts" and "Goldbluff" and the tour that followed that last album were the perfect conditions for the band to rebloom and provide us with a significant prog rock masterpiece.

Five stars without a doubt. Somewhere in South Spain, 17/07/2014.

ibnacio | 5/5 |

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