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

THE SILENT CORNER AND THE EMPTY STAGE

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

4.37 | 528 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'The Silent Corner & The Empty Stage' follows in the same vein as its predecessor 'Chameleon', only this time assuming a more agressive disposition. The opening track 'Modern' shows you exactly that right away. with its delirious guitar layers (some sound really creepy) and frantic singing about the dehumanizing side of modernization. Hammill's incendiary spirituality continues to express itself on the next three tracks, all of them piano based. 'Wilhelmina' reveals this performer taking a more candourous attitude as he speaks to his first daughter (back then, still an infant) about the confusions of adult life. Then, the first bass piano notes come thundering increasingly to give way to a mystical/psychological observation on 'The Lie', a disturbingly dark Gothic- tinged number, and may I add, an exercise of lucid expressiveness throughout the use of very few notes - brilliant! Track 4 is performed in a VsGG ambience (well, it's supposed to, since his fellow members are all guests here): 'Forsaken Gardens' explores and laments about the destructive side of self-centredness in a progressive manner, sounding very similar to the most pompous moments of 'H to He' in the harder sections - yes, a piece can be hard rocking without including a guitar in it. But again, the album doesn't end here. 'Red Shift' does include a pretty amount of guitar parts (riffs, textures, brief dissonant solos) creating a perfect partnership with Jackson's saxes, in a context of electric blues and psychedelia: this piece is not too frantic, but it certainly is powerful instrumentally. Its structure even anticipates at some degree that of La Rossa, soon to appear in the VdGG album 'Still Life'. The only calm piece in the album is 'Rubicon' (calm under Hammill patterns, that is, only voice and acoustic guitar, yet still portraying a disturbing set of lyrics that brings turmoil into the listener's ears and mind). The closing number is pretty effective, since it's the most dramatic and fiery track in the album. 'A Louse is not a Home' brings back the VdGG sound to the fore, with Hammill experimenting with his vocal range undefatigably to match the track's gloomy grandeur. Once again, the subject of the ego's potential and limitations brings back a Hammill wildly exorcising his own personal existentialist ghosts. Tracks 1, 3, 5 and 7 are my chosen highlights of 'Silent Corner', though the rest of the material is also captivating enough. I give it 4 stars, though I wish I could give it an extra half.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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