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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 | 1486 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Van der Graaf Generator is just not a band I love. However, for various reasons over time I have grown to appreciate their work in a way I wasn't able to before. That does not change the fact that they are still low on my list of not just progressive rock but music in general. The lyrics are free verse poetry but seem to integrate well with the music, even though the lead vocalist (I hesitate to use the word "singer") has a style that can be uncomfortable at times. The organ and saxophone are the primary instruments throughout, a combination I also never cared for, but for the most part the music is only mildly eccentric. I think I would recommend this to people looking to get acquainted with Van der Graaf Generator.

"Killer" After a great saxophone introduction, Peter Hammill begins one of his most solid vocal performances. The subtle organ work is exceptional, and the even subtler acoustic guitar during the second verse grabs my attention. The instrumental section doesn't suit my taste at all, with that loud, low lead instrument, and I have never cared for the squeaking runs of David Jackson's saxophone, talented though he may be. The words are expressive and free-flowing, and describe a shark that lacks companionship because the other fish fear it (sounds like something a second grader might have come up with, but it has its own strange metaphoric charm).

"House with No Door" A softer piece, with a great chord progression on the piano and gentle vocals from Hammill, the second track is another good "introductory" song for the uninitiated I think. I really enjoy its soothing nature and beautiful simplicity.

"The Emperor in His War-Room" This track begins softly and darkly, with delicate harmonics, but soon screeching organ and harsh flute jump in to accompany Hammill. The guitar solo that introduces the second part of the song really reminded me of King Crimson, and with good reason- that's Robert Fripp playing there. All in all, this is a dark song that has some intriguing and masterful lyrics.

"Lost" The sprightly introduction ushers in something a bit different from the previous melancholic and menacing songs. There's a lot of variety in this lengthy piece, while the organ and saxophone are steadfast throughout. A common and repetitive progression brings the song to a dramatic conclusion.

"Pioneers Over C" The longest song on the album morphs through many different musical sections. Placid organ and percussion is the canvas on which Hammill paints his many words at first. A bass riff pops up from time to time unexpectedly. The acoustic guitar sections are my favorite, and the worst part of the song to me of course is the directionless saxophone bit in the middle (which proceeds without accompaniment). It is easily the most disjointed composition on the album, but Hammill's dramatic vocal theme is repeated often enough to keep it grounded. The ending is raucous and really not my thing at all. I think it's safe to say that for the most part, it's this last piece that drags down an otherwise excellent and creative collection of work.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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