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Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover

PAWN HEARTS

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1368 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Dark Hearts

Van Der Graaf Generator are already known as being one of the darkest Prog bands from the classic 70's wave, however VdGG managed two very different ways of expressing this darkness; one of them, there most successful and acclaimed by a big vast of Prog fans with the albums Still Life and Godbluff, while still featuring the dark themes and Peter's ''over-exagerrated'' theatrical voice, the melodies and compositions are way more accesible while by no means loosing their originality; the other one, which is featured on this record and their previous, VdGG focalised on the dissonant aspects of the dark themes with subtle jazzy/avant leanings and complex compositions all in all making one of the somberest bands from the 70's.

Already from the first song, Lemmings, you realize the dark themes this band is all about, as well as some interesting jazz influences, however this doesn't help the music be easier to digest, quite the contrary. However, from a objective point of view you should definitely be able to realize their great song-writing and musicianship. As from a personal point of view it has it's moments, like the mysterious and gentle ending, as well as some interesting somber passages, but in general for me, this is the weakest song in the album, anyhow it manages to be a very good composition, with all the essential characteristics VdGG is all about.

Now to the second song, Man-Erg, follows the excellent composition the previous had featured, however this one improves in better melodies and chord progressions. With beautiful, subtle organs all through the song, as well as some very jazzy moments, with David's majestic sax. However, Man-Erg, also has it's dark side, with moments of powerful organ and sax, with some tenebrous vocals here and there, which may seem dissonant, and way too sombre, however I now personally love the energy of it, over-taking the previous smoothness. Man-Erg, is definitely on par with any song from Godbluff and Still Life, in terms of composition and brilliant ideas.

Finally, the so acclaimed epic, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, truly shows that those who praise this epic so good, have a good reason for it. Going even further with the composition style Man-Erg had featured, this time with multi-parts each very well done and reminds me of the brilliancy of the multi-parts of Supper's Ready, however the music could still be considered dense and dissonant in most ocassions, which makes a huge difference in respect with Supper's Ready. Personally, I find 3/4 parts of it really good and completely unique, while not being my type of music, VdGG with this album, but specially with this song, has showed me that they definitely deserve the respect some give them and should be named along the 70's giants.

To finish I will say that VdGG's first period is definitely an acquired taste, though no matter how much you hate it, you can't denie that they were as capable as those classic 70's giants to create exceptional and totally unique music.

If you belong to those who listen to the classic Symphonic Prog bands start with Godbluff and Still Life, despite some challenge you will still find due to Peter's vocals, the music is by no means as complicated and discrepant as this. If you belong to those who enjoys, what people who don't like it call 'nonesense' or simply 'annoyance', then you're in for a BIG and, hopefully, tastey treat.

Not a lover of the band, and not often in the mood for them, and if I am I would pick either Godbluff or Still Life, however I can absolutely recognise that this album is excellent, the whole unique climax this record reaches with the epic and the impression this album gives overall, is definitely something no other band has, yet, delivered to me. Listen to this ONLY if you consider yourself a Prog fan, which I expect all of you from this website are.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |

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