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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1971 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Pawn Hearts has a lot of arcane music for one to sink one's ears into. Garish and ostentatious, this whole album is extremely difficult to follow. It has taken repeated hearings just to appreciate and enjoy what I do, but it seems that this is one of the nadirs of Van der Graaf Generator's classic era.

"Lemmings" Immediately, Peter Hammill's dramatic vocals whine over steadily building music, led by Hugh Branton's organ. David Jackson's saxophone accompanies the frantic vocal melody. With some howling wind in the background, a more subdued acoustic segment begins, but it is short-lived, unfortunately. Ultimately, the music disintegrates gradually until only the lonesome but jazzy drumming of Guy Evans remains. The organ and flute that come in at the last minute are a tad eerie.

"Man-Erg" Soft piano and organ begin this much more pleasant track. I love the soulful vocal melody in the first several moments, and it may be my favorite part of this album. After some saxophone screeching, the pleasantness ends, as an odd and cacophonic section takes over. All told, this is my favorite track from the album, and essentially salvages it from being banished from my hearing it ever again.

"A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" Silky keyboard textures and cymbals flow under the histrionic vocals of the front man. An airier section lightens things up, with spacious flute and organ. In this way, it takes the form of psychedelic rock, with spacey passages and bizarre noises from the saxophone that just don't sound natural. The next heavier section has full, almost boastful-sounding vocals and a gorgeous organ tone. To be sincere, there are parts here that I really enjoy, particularly in how the instruments works together, and even the rapid-fire vocals at times (though I was seriously turned-off the first several times I heard it), but there's also an awful lot I can't stand even now, like the segment that is so full of dissonant instruments it nearly gives me a headache. One part toward the end sounds like music for some ridiculous freak show. The last three minutes are grand, but the music contained therein assumes an insignificant role since there was little building up to it previously. Much is going on in this lengthy piece, but overall, it tends to drag.

Epignosis | 2/5 |


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