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Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He, Who Am The Only One CD (album) cover

H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1088 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer
5 stars For this second masterpiece in a row to grace the year 1970 from one of the earliest of progressive giants..... VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, I have to put on my Freudian psychologist's hat in order to understand the complexities of the allegories going into the truly poetic lyrics of Peter Hammill, who IMO is the best of the best in terms of singer / songwriter sensibilities in a progressive rock context. Every verse is constructed to milk out the desired emotional response with the musical accompaniment designed to heighten those precise desired effects.

This was my very first VDGG album that I ever heard and upon first listening I actually didn't like this at all. It seemed like a very bad pompous version of David Bowie, an art rock artist who to this day I feel has some similarities with Mr Hammill, however as we all know Bowie went in a more accessible direction and garnered well deserved success for his art rock contributions to the musical world and VDGG, sadly, while going down the same path and adding layers of complexities on their work bench didn't quite get the same results and although the magic can be clearly heard after many listens, the contemporary listening audience wasn't ready for such startlingly complex, darkened and mournful music when it was released much like my first encounter.

The title of this album has always intrigued me and it is by no means obvious as to what its reference may be, however after listening to this album several many times and studying the lyrics, it seems to me that the odd title H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE taken with the obsessive fascination with abuse of power as well as the cover art depicting a lonely pair of legs in space with two rounded objects representing a pair of over-sized testicles makes me think that the actual meaning of this album is to represent the disconnecting nature of improperly used testosterone.

H TO HE symbolizes the fusion of hydrogen to helium and the WHO AM THE ONLY ONE changes the chemical symbol He from helium to the subject pronoun "he." This represents the mindset that male humans are the next logical step in creation after the primary building blocks of matter and that a man who is filled with testosterone and damaged psychologically can usurp power and go on to do nasty things by placing himself as the center of the universe and therefore making it possible to justify ruthless actions no matter how brutal or cruel. As far as anti-war stances go occurring in music, it just doesn't get any more poetically perfect or musically masterful than this splendid album by Peter Hammill and the gang.

Outer space and inner space seem more similar than not and a true poet like Hammill supplicates these portrayals like no other. "Pioneers Over C" perfectly represents this theory IMHO while referencing the laws of physics, it actually has a second meaning euphemistically referring to the tyrannical abuse of power. I see this piece as representing the domination of the natural and social worlds in a detached and frozen manner. The image of a man lost in outer space looking down on the world below viewing the world in disdain as he becomes increasingly isolated from the human family below and as this downward spiral escalates the desire to control and destroy only becomes stronger and stronger until....

This album really ramped up the experimental tendencies started on the previous album and because of the musical direction, bassist Nic Potter just couldn't get down with the whole thing and left the band in the middle of recording this album. Organist Hugh Branton whose keyboard playing is a major ingredient to the band's sound picked up bass duties and went as far as incorporating the bass parts with his foot pedals when playing live in addition to his already complex and haunting organ playing. David Jackson continued to amaze everyone with his rare ability to play two wind instruments simultaneously and with Guy Evans staying on as percussionist the band found a stable lineup that would be considered their classic lineup and they would go on to pump out some of the absolute best music ever made on this planet.

As with the last album every song flows perfectly into the next mixing pleasant melodies with jarring outlandish outbreaks of cacophonous sounds that perfectly emphasize lyrical subterfuge in their deliveries. Despite my countless listens to this masterpiece of music I am still floored by it. It not only ages well but because of the roundabout way of presenting the lyrics i'm constantly considering new meanings in the lyrical content. An intellectual teaser to say the least but one that fascinates me and keeps my constant interest. Of all the albums I have rated five stars this one comes close to the top of my list for best albums of all time. A timeless classic that I never tire of and sounds better after every listen.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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