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Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He, Who Am The Only One CD (album) cover

H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1093 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This puzzlingly named album (apparently referring to the basic exothermic reaction of hydrogen to helium, the chemical reaction that causes the sun and stars to be suc excellent sources of energy) shows a band, for the first time, completely comfortable in their own shoes. Their sound is nailed in this album, both their extreme moments as well as their ballads.

Killer, for me, represents one of the best tracks from this version of the band. I quite enjoy the lyrics to it, and Peter Hamils singing finally reaches that unique, exaggerated theatric voice of his that I enjoy so much. David Jacksons sax is the other star in the song, squealing all over this epic, high energy track. In this album and the next, the band would experiment a lot with dissonance, (they did so on the previous album as well, to a lesser extent, especially in After The Flood), and we get our first real taste of that here.

The next song, House With No Door, continues the theme of loneliness and alienation, although this one takes a complete 180 in approach, relying more on piano and the more emotional side of Peters vocals. Yet, being performed by Van deer Graaf means that this song is anything but a simple ballad; the drumming is far too dense for us to forget who we are listening to, and Jackson makes his presence known as well. I enjoy the lyrics to this track immensely.

The next two tracks are both enjoyable, although I enjoy Emperor less than House With no Door and Lost is the only track from this album that seems to disappear from my mind as soon as it stops playing (although I enjoy it while it is on). Each of these tracks is closer to Vander Graafs ballad style than their epic, and the slow curve down in enjoyment is ultimately the low point of this album.

Luckily, the low point of this album is not so low, and the album is bookended with the strongest tracks, so you are impressed from the beginning and leave satisfied.

Pioneers Over C, like every other track on this album, deals with alienation and loneliness (the Who Am The Only One part of the album title should have given away that this album would feature this theme strongly). Musically, this one is the strongest on the album, featuring both the intensity of Killer and strong, quieter parts. The lyrics rival House With No Door in cleverness, and in this song, Nic Potter truly shines. (I would argue that this track is his best work with the band). It shifts between ethereally haunting moments to catchy sax-backed sections to spacy singing over guitar chords to dissonant sax and back without breaking the coherence of the piece.

This leaves us with an album that should not be ignored by any fan of progressive rock who enjoys drama, darkness (11/11 or otherwise), clever lyrics, and an adventurous spirit.

Special note must be given to one of the bonus tracks. I usually avoid mentioning bonus tracks, unless they are particularly impressive. (In fact, after the first few listens, I usually stop the album before the bonus tracks start). Squid1/Squid2/Octopus, one of the bands longest tracks at 15 minutes, sounds like it was only cut from the album due to space constraints. It features everything that made this album such a delight, and although it doesn't quite reach the heights of either of their official epics (A Plage of Lighthouse Keepers or Meurglys III), and seems a bit looser in in form than anything else from H to He, I still enjoy it immensely. It is largely an instrumental track, and contains some very adventurous moments from the entire band. This track makes it worth tracking down a copy of the expanded version of this album, even if you already own the original version,

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |

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