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Van Der Graaf Generator - Trisector CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 457 ratings

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Man With Hat
3 stars An album of threes?

Maybe. Three members. Three songs I love. Three songs I like a lot. Three (times three) number of tracks. Almost three songs I think the record could have done without. And, perhaps thusly, three stars. Van Der Graaf Generator continues their (second) comeback period with Trisector, an album that feels the least VDGG, even compared to The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, out of their whole catalog. For me, this has less to do with Jackson's departure and more about the style of the songs. Shorter, sparser, more "song like" (admittedly a phrase I do not like). To me, this is more like a Peter Hammill solo album, which is not a bad thing, but it is not Van Der Graaf Generator. Of course this is not meant to discredit the more explosive, heavier, fuller moments (which are all great), but overall something is missing for me that doesn't allow this album to really reach out, grab my shirt collar and shake my head about whilst yelling 'listen to me!', like a majority of their music does. But what is progressive rock without progress?

I'll start off with the good. The opening track, 'The Hurlyburly', a rare instrumental track from VDGG. After some sound effects the song really takes off. This is a really fun surf-rock- esque song that really gets my toes-a-tappin'. Aside from 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' this is perhaps the least serious (sounding) song VDGG has produced yet. Maybe its this quality that really makes this song stand out for me (or that I really like surf rock). The only thing I wish was that Jackson was still around for this song. Saxophone really fits into the surf rock sound, and its absence is a bit disappointing. However, this is something that passes with more and more listens and I can appreciate the song for what it is now. The second track. 'Interference Patterns'. Perhaps my favorite on the album, this a jagged, angular, keyboard dominated piece that doesn't let the listener rest for a moment. (Also, as a bit of a science nerd the lyrical content is very appealing to me.) As one of the other reviewers said, its almost as if the music itself is creating interference patterns out of the sound waves. It is hard for me to call this classic VDGG, as it is a real departure from the classic VDGG sound, but this tune will certainly become a classic VDGG song. The seventh track, 'All That Before'. Another real departure from the classic VDGG sound, this rocker amps up the heaviness and offers humorous musings on getting old. I've always been a fan of Hammill's guitar playing and this one has some nice guitar moments and a very catchy main melody(ies). Other songs of interest are the closer ('(We Are) Not Here') with excellent ghostly vocals and some good sound poundings, 'Drop Dead', with some particularly fierce drumming from Evans, and 'The Final Reel', a softer song with some great piano and melodies throughout (and is a nice calm down from the opening couple).

Unfortunately, the highs are balanced with some lows. 'Lifetime' is pretty dull and relatively static song. This song is perhaps the most similar to a Hammill solo song as the music mostly serves to support the vocals. However, one plus I find is the guitar work, which, for reasons unknown, I like alot. 'Only In A Whisper' drags on a bit too much for my tastes. While it is not a terrible song, it would benefit from being about half its length. And finally, 'Over The Hill'. I haven't read all the reviews for this album, but all the ones I have have praised 'Over The Hill'. I must play foil to these statements. There is little here I can get into. There's plenty of slow build, and quieter moments, able to fit on to a number of Hammill solo albums, which are contrasted by louder, heavier moments (and seemingly even an angry reprise of 'All The Before') but overall, I feel a lack of direction. Perhaps if it was shorter and more streamlined it would be a stronger song (there are some ear catching melodies and a playfulness [although sad sounding] piano riffs). As its presented, however, there isn't enough here for me to grab onto.

All in all, this a good album. I was afraid how VDGG would be as a trio, but this album doesn't lose much without Jackson. Sure, there are moments where it would have been nice to have some saxophone or flute, but overall, their are plenty of instants where the three of them fill in the sound nicely. In a way, this can be seen as some sort of debut album. The sound here is different from classic VDGG, but with enough underpinnings (if you can call the lyrics, a main component to almost every song here an underpinning) that you can tell its still them. Additionally this album is a grower. After the first listen I was disappointed, but over time I learned to appreciate what was happening on this record. There is also a lot of potential here, and I hope they continue to record over the coming years and develop this trio format into the fantastic beast it can be. 3-3.5 stars.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |


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