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Van Der Graaf Generator - A Grounding In Numbers CD (album) cover

A GROUNDING IN NUMBERS

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.41 | 435 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Orpheus-keys
3 stars A Grounding in Numbers marks a slight change of direction for VDGG and this change of direction is evident in both the lyrical content and the musical changes occuring throughout. It is their second album as a trio after saxophonist David Jackson left the group and the absence of saxophone on this album was a very important change of direction for the group. Guitar parts are more prominent than ever here and the production is far less bulky due to no brass instruments clogging up the mix.

'Your Time Starts Now' is an archetypal Hammill ballad full of Hugh Banton's droning organs, Guy Evans' tranquil dirge-esque drum fills and wistful displays of lyricism. For a progressive rock group to start their brand new album with a ballad is, generally speaking; a bold move, - nonetheless it works well here. 'Mathematics' is a short song where Banton's organ swirls are the dominating factor, much like the 'Still Life' VDGG-period. 'Highly Strung' is a fast-paced bolshy rocker which wouldn't be totally out of place on a Hammill solo album ala Nadir's Big Chance, - the lyrics deal with the stream of consciousness one undergoes whilst experiencing a panic attack and the accompanying music is also very busy and cluttered. 'Red Baron' is a nice little ambient piece which allows Banton and Evans to take centre-stage for a little while. Temporary relief from the harshness of VDGG rockers is, however, very short-lived, as it is followed by 'Buncho' which is probably my least favourite on the album due to it sounding awfully cluttered and directionless. 'Snake Oil' is a massive improvement, clocking in at around six-minutes. The second half of this track is among some of the finest moments in VDGG history, showcasing dynamic syncopated rhythms in multiple odd-time signature and tempo- changes, - not totally disimmilar to that of 'Man-Erg' from Pawn Hearts. 'Splink' is another ambient instrumental piece with a fairly strong opening melody; however quickly it vanishes into nothingness. 'Embarassing Kid' is another bolshy Hammill-led rocker with tons of aggression and focus. 'Medusa' is a nice ballad which feels underworked as the opening three minutes have a lot of potential and could have easily been developed into a longer piece. 'Mr Sands' is my personal favourite on the album, - for it never becomes stale and oozes with strong riffs and syncopated rhythms throughout. 'Smoke' and '5533' seem to submerge into one another, - the former being a three-minute quasi-80s disco track with odd vocal melodies and whispered lyrics whereas the latter is perhaps slightly more futuristic, fitting with the esoteric space-age theme of the lyrics. 'All over the Place' finishes the album off and it's one of the longest tracks on the record. It starts nicely with gentle harpsichord layering before dwindling away into a fairly mediocre mid-section. Thankfully the track redeems itself with a fairly stonking organ riff which closes the album nicely with a punch.

Overall, a varied and eclectic mix of VDGG's talents, - however none of them are truly embraced to the fullest leaving the listener perhaps a tad disatisfied. One of their most jumbled releases to date which is full of great ideas but seldom do they truly come into fruition. An album that VDGG purists will very much enjoy but newcomers will more than likely be uninterested.

Orpheus-keys | 3/5 |

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