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Van Der Graaf Generator - Trisector CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 457 ratings

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4 stars A consistent music format .

Having reunited in 2005 and released an album called "Present" which received rave reviews from prog music critics, the legendary band has now come back with another brilliant album "Trisector" (which I presume the name represents the fact that they are three-piece band after David Jackson left the band). The main reason why their previous album received rave reviews revolves around the band's consistency in their music format which has been very "specific" Van der Graaf Generator sound. What is that? It's typically the replacement of guitar (mainly) with pulsating organ sounds augmented with saxophone with dark nuance resulting from the compositions. This is brilliant considering the band had practically in vacuum stage for 30 years since their album "The Quite Zone / The Pleasure Dome" released in 1977. It does not mean that the members of the band had been nothing to do during that span of time as Peter Hammil had been releasing numerous solo albums and David Jackson (sax) joined a powerful prog Canterbury band The Tangent in 2000.

The reunion continued as it was proven by the release of "Trisector" on March 17, 2008 even though only three original members - that's why the album is called "Trisector" - with Peter Hammil (vox, guitar, piano), Hugh Banton (keyboards, organ) and Guy Evans (drums). David Jackson, the critical member who used to play saxophone, left the band. With the departure of Jackson, VdGG still proves solid in their music endeavor. In fact, this album is better than their previous "Present".

VdGG is consistent with its musical characteristics which basically dark, complex and sometimes there are parts with avant-garde elements. With nine tracks, there is an unusual thing that it also includes one instrumental track as opener. If you have observed the band since its glory days in 70s, you would feel the need to enjoy this album in its entirety even though this is neither a concept album nor the songs seem to interrelate one to another. I can sense how elegant the compositions the band offers right from the beginning track "The Hurlyburly" until the concluding track " (We Are) Not Here" which overall sounds like a cohesive whole.

Hey, this is definitely not ELP where the keyboard takes all music maneuvers wildly by Keith Emerson. However, this latest album relies heavily on unique organ sounds brilliantly produced by Hugh Banton in a format that is not as complex as the band's legendary albums. The chief characteristic, in addition to eerie organ sounds, is the baritone quality of Peter Hammil's voice. He has been one of great prog vocalists who can maintain his quality really well, and in fact, I think his singing style is really improving in this album. And I think, he is pivotal in this reunion because without him it's definitely not VdGG anymore. Until now I have not found any vocalist who can sing as great as Hammil.

"The Hurlyburly" kicks off nicely with dark nuance using some touch of avant-garde without vocal line. It sounds VdGG in the seventies with modern world as the rhythm section sometimes reminds me to Dire Strait's "Money for Nothing". It depicts a paradox: dark nuance with happy rhythm section - how can it be? That's the genius of the band creating such synergy! With no saxophone, the band is quite inventive by putting Hugh Banton provides great maneuvers with his organ work. The next track "Interference Patterns" provides a dynamic interaction between organ and dynamic drumwork by Guy Evans. This pattern is repeated excellently as you may find as in " All That Before" and the concluding track "(We Are) Not Here".

"The Final Reel" is a ballad with jazz nuance which gives a chance to piano and organ on dark setting. With similar instruments, the band moves forward with "Lifetime"which flows naturally with Peter Hammil's technical ability in his singing style (dynamic, powerful). "Drop Dead" brings the music in rock fashion with VdGG style.

It's not something strange that VdGG creates a composition with relatively long duration like in an epic "Over The Hill" which spans into a 12 minute long. This track might be something that you have dreamed about from the band if you yhave been with the band since the 70s, because other tracks are basically shorter. Again, if you were there in the 70s, you might find some passages (during breaks) in this track sound similar with what Jethro Tull made in "Thick As A Brick" album. Overall, this epic is really excellent!!

One thing that's worth mentioning: even though this time the band remains only three original members (without David Jackson, whose contribution was pivotal in the band's legendary albums), "Trisector" has firmly positioned VdGG consistent music direction and format. For newbie, typically the music of VdGG is quite difficult to digest but it'll grow over time and repeats of spins. For those of you who have been with the band in decades, this album makes you happy, really! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Gatot | 4/5 |


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