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Peter Hammill - The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 765 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars There's a few reasons an artist will decide to do a solo album; he wants to explore a style that is at odds with the band or he wants to achieve a measure of success apart from the band's recognition. It's difficult to imagine Hammill being constrained or at odds with VDGG- he led the band, and everyone stays with him on this album anyway. So why is it not a VDGG album? Maybe it's the addition of the suspiciously named 'Randy California'- sounds like an in-joke to me...

Oh well, that being said, if you're a fan of Hammill there is plenty to satisfy you here. Vocally I find him somewhere between early Bowie and Bruce Dickenson (IRON MAIDEN) with a hint of "Frankenfurter" Tim Curry in some of the less credible dramatic moments. The songs mainly move when the lyrics move, only rarely finding a steady rhythm in songs like the jazzy "Red Shift". "Modern" is full of interesting spacey, synthetic textures upon which he speaks, sings, mumbles and screams- much of his range is ably demonstrated here. "Wilhelmina" softly caresses and then gets harsher in the way "Man-Erg" fans will recognize, but notably focuses on something other than Peter for a while (relatively- it's about what "Willy" means to "Peter", and stop giggling). "The Lie (Bernini's St. Theresa)" is Hammill's examination of religious ecstasy- not sculpture- against a dramatic piano and organ score. "Forsaken Gardens" continues the piano and vocal structure before breaking into the first real rhythmic section on the album. The lyrics deal with isolation and unrequited...something. Upon hearing the emotionally charged climax of the song, my wife exclaimed, "I'd like to meet him...and then slap him." The Echoplex (or whatever primitive delay unit they had) is used to great extent, especially on "Red Shift" and "Modern", and contributes nicely to the psychedelic/ progressive tone of the album. "Rubicon" has a loping acoustic feel- probably the most like "Space Oddity"-era Bowie or even pre-electric Marc Bolan. "A Louse is not a Home" is my favorite song title on the album, and reveals a little of the humor I wish he had more of in his lyrics. The music, however, is a bit too blatantly emotional to be fun and a bit too "Rocky Horror" to take very seriously. As it progresses, however, it reminds one more of VDGG than most of the album and features some interesting passages and textures.

I'm tempted to start liking Peter Hammill, mainly because he so consistently surprises and amuses me with his eager, humorless dedication to defy all notions of taste and restraint. Be warned- playing this album will bring out previously hidden violent tendencies in your friends and relatives, but if you are (or think you may be) one of the fragile, uncommon souls out there who really love Peter's music, you'll find paradise within this album.

James Lee | 2/5 |


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