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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1971 ratings

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The Ace Face
5 stars Van Der Graaf's best album by far, with all 3 songs being amazingly well done and thought out. Robert Fripp again guest stars, but this time on all the songs, not just one. Well, here we go:

Lemmings: An interesting acoustic riff, and some thought provoking lyrics by Hammill. However, the softness doesn't last, as it blasts into a hard section with some great singing, verging on screaming as you can hear the rough edges in Hammill's voice. The sax perfectly augments the vocals in the harder part, and as it slows down, the organ creates a backdrop against which Hammill and Jackson create their masterwork. The section with Hammill harmonizes with himself in a very dissonant way is so good its undescribeable. The distorted and positively evil sounding riff from Jackson is augmented by the scary organ chords and Hammill's growling vocal. Then it starts to build up again, with the piano coming in to take a lead role, and then the sax overtakes it. There are still many more changes to come, and the ending few minutes are some off-sounding delicate organ and flute parts that contrast nicely. GREAT song

Man-Erg: starts off sounding a lot like House with No Door, and Hammill's voice appears like it might be doing the same thing. the piano work is nicely accompanied by the organ. Then it builds to be more dramatic, sounding like a church hymn almost. you begin to think the song will continue this for the whole 10 minutes, but you are thrown off soon enough. at about 3 minutes, some strange sounds plunge us into hell, and the killer sax riff leads the way, with the organ adding some frills and Hammill screams "How can i be freeeEEE, how can i get out?" he has such a unique voice, and it shows here dramatically. The heavy riff slowly slows down, and leads into an electric piano section that doesnt entirely throw off the evil guise. it seems to be a little sadder, but with something lurking under the surface. Hammill uses such inventive lyrics as "acolytes of gloom", and it suits the music well. the sax adds great frills as usual. the sax duet with the organ continues, and jumps back up into the opening theme, with Hammill reflecting on the "killer that lives inside him". This leads back into the evil riff from jackson, bringing the song to a heavy, dramatic close, with some tympani sounding drums from Evans.

A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers: One of the greatest epics ever, hands down. The many changes make it so perfect its ridiculous. Hammill's mysterious voice jumps the octaves, and leads us into the first section, with nice sax and militaristic drumming from Guy evans, who is grossly underrated. the vocals suddenly get heavy and deep, and then cut out, as we are lead via organ arpeggio into a free form section. The flute pops in here and there, as does the sax. soon it gets heavy, simulating the foghorn of a lighthouse, and then dissonant as the ship crashes into the rocks, killing hundreds. we are then led back into the song by a building organ chord progression that is mysterious and foreboding. the opening is reprised, and we are introduced to a newer, more upbeat section, with great sax and organ making it seem lighter than Hammill describes it to be. Hammill then sinks into the lower registers as the music dies down, and builds into one of the most beautiful chord progressions in history, with soaring saxophone and tear-jerking vocals and organ. then it builds up again into one of the most amazing sections ever, drama literally pouring out of Hammill's voice right into your heart, wrenching it right from your body. then the organ and piano create such a dissonance as has never been heard before, and the synth overtakes it all with its buzzy ferocity. The next section is lead into by Hammill's ominous vocal "The maelstrom of my memory, is a vampire and it feeds on me, now staggering madly, over the brink I fall". the organ is softer now, and Hammill seems to be sad and contemplative. this section leads into empty space, with a drum roll slowly building into the most intense and breathtaking section of the song. Hammill sounds positively mad, and Evans supplants him with some frantic drumming. this leads into more Hammill screaming and another organ riff that threatens to envelope all and destroy you. then everything cuts away and the piano leads to the stunning climax. A perfect ending to an amazing album and song, Banton builds a mellotron chorus, constantly changing keys, and Robert Fripp throwing in some perfectly placed notes here and there.

Overall, VDGG's best, a perfect contrast of light and dark, and the pinnacle of strange, dark, scary music.

The Ace Face | 5/5 |


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