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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome CD (album) cover

THE QUIET ZONE / THE PLEASURE DOME

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.64 | 578 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 108

After Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd, in my humble opinion, Van Der Graaf Generator is with Camel, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Rush, one of the best 70's progressive groups and is also one of the bands that most influenced the movement of the progressive rock music. Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 at Manchester University, but soon they were settled in London. They quickly become a celebrated progressive rock band with a very dedicated cult following. However, they never achieved the fame of many of their compatriot bands.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is the eighth studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1977. It's an album that marks several, severe and profound changes into the group and into their music too. In the first place, the band shortened their name to Van Der Graaf, which wasn't a usual thing. In the second place, at the end of 1976, following their previous studio album 'World Record' released in 1976, first Hugh Banton and later David Jackson departed from the band. In the third place, the previous bass player of the group Nic Potter returned to the band, supposedly to replace Banton. In the fourth place, the violinist Graham Smith formerly member of the progressive folk band String Driven Thing was called to replace Jackson. Finally, the last but not the least change, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' was Van Der Graaf Generator's last studio album before their 2005 reunion. Thanks God it happened.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Peter Hammill except the sixth track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' which was written by Hammill and Smith. The album is clearly divided into two distinct parts, 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome'. The first part, 'The Quiet Zone' has four tracks. The first track 'Lizard Play' is a song with some very peculiar rhythm and with a very interesting violin work. This is a good song to open the album and telling us that the band's sound has changed. The second track 'The Habit Of The Broken Heart' is also a good track and is essentially an acoustic song commanded by acoustic guitar. The sound of the organ is very subtle, quiet and nice. The third track 'The Siren Song' is a song very calm and beautiful conducted by piano and violin. It's a very melancholic and acoustic song with deep vocals and a nice violin work. This is a song where the sound came direct from the past keeping the same dark musical atmosphere from their previous albums. Somehow, it seems to me a kind of a reminiscent of 'Pilgrims'. The fourth track 'Last Frame' is another song, and like the previous track, also makes a return to the past. It's my favourite track on 'The Quiet Zone' side of the album. It has a great Smith's violin work with some acoustic parts, and is also a song with a very dark musical atmosphere which makes of it a truly fantastic track to close the first part of the album. The second part, 'The Pleasure Dome' has five tracks. The first track 'The Wave' which opens the second part of the album is a very calm, melancholic and a beautiful song in the same vein of Van Der Graaf Generator's songs with good lyrics. It's very well sung by Hammill, and it's also conducted by piano and violin. This is the shortest track on the album, very melodious and tranquil. The second track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' is my favourite song on the album. It has a fantastic violin work which fully demonstrates the technical virtuosity of Smith with his violin, which raises this song to the perfection of a masterpiece. This is a very frantic song very heavy on violin and bass and with a kind of an excessive vocal approach by Hammill. By itself, this track deserves the purchase of the album. The third track 'The Sphinx In The Face' is the dynamic rocker song on the album representing in a way the Van Der Graaf Generator's heaviest moment on it. The fourth track 'Chemical World' is another good song on the album, with good working on violin by Smith and it has also a good classic guitar melody. This is a very dark song with a moody sound that helps to give to the album a very unique feel. The fifth track 'The Sphinx Returns' is a reprise of 'The Sphinx In The Face' and concludes and closes the album in a very interesting way.

Conclusion: After take a look at various reviews of the album, it's interesting to note that there are different points of views. Not so much about the quality of the album, in general they're favourable, but about the favourite side of the album and their best songs. For me, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is a very good album of Van Der Graaf Generator but it's also a strange and an exotic album. It's musically divided into two parts and has a different sound mainly due to the changes into their line up. Despite 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome' be two distinct parts, the album is very balanced in its quality level. My favourite tracks on the album are 'The Siren Song', 'Last Frame', 'The Wave' and especially 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)'. In relation to the changes into their line up, it's clearly evident the lack of the keyboards of Banton and the saxophones and flute of Jackson. However, both Smith and Potter made a terrific job. So, for me, it remains a great work of the group, especially in that historical and critical context.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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