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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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Prog Reviewer
5 stars 10/10

"Pawn Hearts" is a landmark album that every rock fan should listen to.

1971: what a year. Gentle Giant's "Acquiring The Taste", Genesis's "Nursery Cryme", Jethro Tull's "Aqualung", ELP's "Tarkus", Can's "Tago Mago", and, of course, Van Der Graaf Generator's "Pawn Hearts". This last one represents the zenit of one of the greatest progressive rock bands ever. As a consequence, I consider this album one of the most important and best album of this genre we love so much. Pawn Hearts has the structure of the quintessential prog rock album: three songs, one above twenty minutes. For this reason this album can be compared, in this point of view, to other progressive rock albums such as "Close To The Edge", "Relayer", "Anabelas", the first Faust album, or even "1001 Centigrades". But musically speaking, "Pawn Hearts" is a totally different universe, compared to the two mega symphonic Yes albums, the heavy avant garde of "Faust", or the Kobaian "1001 Centigrades". Schizophrenic, tense moments are cleverly alternated with spacey and dreamy moods, alternated as well with beautiful piano-ballad moments, all of these parts incredibly dense and breathtaking. This thanks especially to the heart of the band, the legendary and one of the few "Mister Progressive", Peter Hammill, singer of great talent and originality. Not to push aside all the other musicians, but Hammill IS VDGG. The album starts with a bomb, the fantastic piece "Lemmings", which creates a complex sequence of themes and moods: From a nervous, keyboard driven melody, comes a soft but dense moment, where Hammill is the center of the music. Every scond of this song is great, very well done, for it's complexity and at the same time for it's memorable melodies. "Man Erg" starts as a ballad, similar to one of the ballads they wrote for "H to He Who Am The Only One", "House With No Door". It goes on like this for a few minutes, until a tense and kind of creepy part comes in. Indeed, this song is just as complex as the previous one, and it maintains the same levels as well: the song is probably one of he very best VDGG ballads.

"A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" is one of the band's greatest and most epic songs. Twenty three minutes, extremely complex, made out of different shades and atmospheres, from the typical soft VDGG melody, to an eerie ambient parenthesis, to a wild and intense tune, to a soft ballad, to another weird ambient parenthesis. "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" is rightfully considered one of the best prog rock songs ever written, due especially to the complexity and eclectic style. As a conclusion, I'm happy to say that only after a few listens ( 5, for being more precise) I completely acquired the taste of this album, and now I consider "Pawn Hearts", like I previously said, an essential masterpiece, a landmark album that every prog rock fan should listen to.

EatThatPhonebook | 5/5 |


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