Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Van Der Graaf Generator - Trisector CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 451 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Having reformed after 28 years in 2005, their previous album 'Present' was thought to be the final statement from vdgg. Comprised of 2cd's , with a few new tracks and the rest comprised of intense improvised jam sessions, 'present' was about celebrating the band's return and the joy in playing together rather than a collection of new songs. Nobody thought this would happen, but even with just 3 members, vdgg are a working living band again.Famously never having employed a guitarist, vdgg made a kind of dark intense soul music with a classical progressive feel from a prominent organ sound. Making some of the most edgy quasi satanic music in rock history, the equally dark lyrics and theatrical delivery of peter hammill made them stand out as uncompromising challenging music. With their trademark saxophone sound now gone following the sad departure of david jackson, and with no guitarist, what would an album featuring a drummer , singer and keyboard player sound like? I have to be honest, i didn't expect a lot. But, every Van Der Graaf Generator album is different, and so is this, different but - in it's own way, very good and occasionally brilliant.

It doesn't start very well, however. Instrumental opening track ' The Hurly Burly' is straight rock , like Dire Straits playing surf guitar. It's something i never thought i'd hear vdgg do, famously an edgy band, this is very standard. It rocks fairly well and has a toe tapping upbeat style, but we don't love vdgg for their conforming music.Similarly, 'Drop Dead' sounds like 'Money For Nothing ' ;another Dire Straits reference, all fine and dandy but lacking edge. That leaves us with 7 tracks that hit the spot, and a variety of styles included. Perhaps it's necessity being the mother of invention, but the band have reached further to create one of their most eclectic albums ever. So, we have an organ/keys heavy sound with tight drumming and guitar thrown in for depth, the musical space they have now creating a looser more chaotic - edge of insanity-feel. The themes here are quite philosophical, our place in the universe, the brevity of life and dealing with it's end, but still done with humour - 'All That Before' for example, dealing with middle aged forgetfulness in a charming way amongst a backdrop of edgy organ led soul/rock, adding some mean guitar riffs and a tight heavy rock drum pattern into the mix. It's vdgg in every way, just reconfigured. Elsewhere, tracks like ' Lifetime' and 'Only In A Whisper' are slow powerful building compositions- Hammill's own yearning delivery as powerful a tool when stripped bare as any instruments could be. And it's in these reflective tracks that we see the essence of vdgg distilled, making an awkward, atmospheric, compelling power from very few ingredients.

So far, so good but not so epic. . Where's a taste of the full vdgg experience. . Can they deliver the same kind of raw unsettling assault now they're a 3 piece?. Yes. 'Over The Hill' isn't just a great vdgg track, that would hold it's own with anything they've done, it's a genre classic. When Van Der Graaf Generator are firing on all cylinders, nothing can touch them for delightfully demented power. 12 minutes of epic, operatic madness, as beautiful as it's eerie. As well composed as it is shambolic. Nobody in rock sounds this alien, they're back in the same form as fans would hope but not really expect Final track 'we are not here' seals the deal with a powerful satanic bluster of organ and vocal, and caps an album that isn't their best, in the high standards of previous releases, but will definately supercede expectations from 3 guys in their later middle age, minus a key member, nealy 40 years after their debut. So many veteran bands fall into medeocrity, lose their hunger; but this stilll has that same vital van Der Graaf spirit, against all odds.

gabriel9 | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password


Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives