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Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He, Who Am The Only One CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1529 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars An odd album in the VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR discography, 'H to He' doesn't achieve the greatness of subsequent albums.

The subject matter is uniformly bleak, addressing the human condition and our tendency to drive away those we love, leaving us lost. The opener does this by using the extended metaphor of a shark as the killer of all who dwell in the sea. Surprisingly for VDGG the song is rather a standard rock piece, with a saxophone and vocal hook, and (despite the typical VDGG fan praising their complexity) has become a fan favourite. It's an odd beginning to the album, the edginess they introduced on the previous album missing here.

It doesn't reappear on the second track, a laid-back piano ballad. Again, there is little of the usual sharpness: HAMMILL's voice is restrained (apart from a rather poor falsetto) and JACKSON's sax is given a rest. The whole thing reminds me of the sort of music ELTON JOHN was doing at the time: 'Tumbleweed Connection' and all that. All very sweet. Nor does 'The Emperor in His War-Room' do much to dispel the miasma of pleasantness, with a gentle flute and choral vocals. The second part, 'The Room', warms up a little, with the saxophone coming down from the shelf to accompany drums, bass, guitar and organ in a - I almost said pleasant - workout. Another hook makes this song one the listener wants to return to again and again.

'Lost' brings us back to typical VDGG territory: a compelling mixture of assonance and dissonance, of melody and cacophony. Forget the ridiculous title to this album: this is in reality the album's title track. Though the beginning is gentle, it constantly threatens, finally breaking out for 'The Dance in the Frost'. The final track rounds off the album well, extending the metaphor of 'lostness' into outer space.

This is a good place to start your VDGG collection: not because it is the best - far from it - but because it's possibly the easiest to penetrate, with the least amount of sharp edges to cut yourself on.

russellk | 3/5 |


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