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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other CD (album) cover

THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS WAVE TO EACH OTHER

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.09 | 1244 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SonicDeath10
4 stars This album receives the same rating as Aerosol Gray Machine but for different reasons. Frankly, I think the songs on Aerosol have better melodies and more diverse arrangements. I also think that the lyrics in Aerosol are better. Oh, the lyrics here are more complex and about heavier subjects but sometimes they are embarrassing: the lyrics to White Hammer are some of the worst nonsense Hammill ever wrote. He's ham-fisted nearly literal history of white and black magic is...well...you'd swear Neil Peart was sitting in with the group. Ahem.

The melodies also get more complex but less memorable than before, losing a lot of the instant catchiness of songs like Necromancer. Yes, Necromancer has lyrics as bad as White Hammer but in that song they are presented in such a silly and catchy manner. It's hard to take them as a serious statement. White Hammer DEMANDS to be taken seriously. Enough of hammering on that song (pun not intended) because while the lyrics are bad the song is presented in such a stunning manner: the mad insistence of the arrangements and riffs, Hammill preaching it and almost convincing even me and of course the cyclical crush of the ending riff. It all adds up to a thrilling theatrical performance. The arrangements on this album are incredibly thick and complex. They also set a mood of instant doom, unlike any other prog band at the time. This was only 1970: not even King Crimson was hitting these levels of desperation and crushing intensity. If the songs aren't as memorable as before, they are certainly moodier, more intense and theatrical.

Which is essentially what every song on here is and it is what makes the album so unique and thrilling. There have always been lots of theatrical elements in progressive rock but this album and VDGG in particular stand out as the most inherently theatrical of all prog bands. Darkness starts out quiet and brooding but becomes a raging epic with incredible singing and impassioned playing from all involved. Refugees has a beautiful arrangement and melody with truly heart wrenching lyrics: it is one of Hammill's earliest personal songs and its a beauty. After the grind of White Hammer, we have Whatever Would Robert Have Said a slightly humorous and more simple tune and Out of My Book is a ballad that mostly floats by me. It has a good arrangement and good lyrics but I can't remember it. After the Flood is a spiraling epic that features complex unison playing and counter melodies in the beginning as well as a simple but effective acoustic shuffle, needless but effective vocal encoding, thrilling apocalyptic lyrics, abrupt (often too abrupt) changes in melody and mood as well as an effective "sing along" at the end with one of the best melodies on the album. I'm sure most fans of this album end up singing "and when the water falls again, all is dead and nobody lives" over and over.

All in all, this album is simply a beginning. It can't even be called a transitional album: no elements from the previous album are in this album. It's a completely new style of progressive rock music and it suffers as a result. The lyrics can be a bit too heavy handed, the melodies, while there are often obtuse. The album also has little to no diversity in the arrangements, as effective as they are here. However, it's definitely a good start for the VDGG sound that would later be perfected. An essential album for VDGG fans.

SonicDeath10 | 4/5 |

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