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Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1962 ratings

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5 stars How come I have not reviewed this seminal album? I might had been so ignorant about this album. It's probably from the first time I was engaged with prog music when I was 14 years old I had never considered Van Der Graaf music as one of my favorites. It could be the band's lack of melodies in most of its compositions or the band's intention for not using guitar as their main instrument. But I never put aside the band as I knew it from the 70s that this band was very special in the history of progressive music. When I listened to "Still Life" for the first time, it blew me away at first listen. It also happened to my other journey with "World Record" and "Godbluff". They were all excellent albums! Talking about "Pawn Hearts" I only could absorb the music after I was exposed with other albums of Van der Graaf Generator. I don't know why this album seemed like very heavy for my ears not in a sense that the music was so complex, but there were segments that I thought quite annoying - repetitive and not melodic. Even when I finally realized that Robert Fripp of King Crimson did contribute to this album, still I could not absorb it well.

Time went by and I did not quite notice anymore about this album as I got many other great albums like Genesis' "Selling England", Yes "Relayer" and King Crimson "In The Wake of Poseidon" which for me they have nice melody (in part or overall album) as compared to Pawn Hearts. But sometimes I felt like I needed something else, something different, something less-melodic but still unique. It seemed like "Pawn Hearts" fulfilled these criteria and I spun again this album. (Note: So long I only got this album in cassette format until couple of years ago I bought the CD format. Yes, I do enjoy the singing style of Peter Hammill which in some cases have similarities with Peter Gabriel.

I have read some reviews with respect to this album and found out there were polarities in terms of teach reviewer's view about this album. One thing that I was "quite" happy was the fact that most reviewers said that this album is somewhat heavier (read: tougher) than other albums of Van der Graaf (including my all-time favorite "Still Life"). Wow! The wider the polarities, the more I like it because this is what we call as "prog" music - people would have different perception from the same one album. That's the beauty of prog music: different views about the same music.

Once I finally be able to overcome my barriers to understand and digest this album, it has resided very well in my memory and in fact when I'm writing the review now (7 Apr 07) I do not need to spin the CD because it has been recorded well in my memory cells. Of course, I can memorize all the subtleties produced by this album. As far as musical compositions, this is a masterpiece album and set the band apart from other bands at the time of its release. Van der Graaf laid their music foundation on the use of Hammond organ and saxophone while no other bands did similar thing. You might need sometime to digest the music like I did in the past. But when you finally can absorb it you can see how brilliant the band was in creating a music like this. The composition is tight and it offers changes in moods and styles. The songwriting is excellent, resulting excellent tracks like "Lemmings" and "Man-Erg" (which can be digested easily than other tracks) plus excellent epic "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers".

Overall, this is a gem of the 70s with unique composition and powerful music in a dark nuance. This is recommended to all of you who want to explore the various types of progressive music - whether you like it or not is not important at all. You should have it if you want to explore prog music in its entirety. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 5/5 |


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