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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1486 ratings

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5 stars One of my favourite prog albums of all time, H To He is a compelling document of Peter Hammill and VDGG's dark vision. While other albums contain great songs such as Refugees, After The Flood, A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers and Scorched Earth, none have hit me as consistently as this one.

Every piece bristles with intensity. The opener Killer, about a mean-ass fish that craves companionship, is perhaps the ultimate example of VDGG's ability to rock without guitars. The sax of Jackson and organ of Banton (one of the deadliest and least acknowledged combinations in rock) hit the spot time and time again as the rhythm section of Nic Potter (who left halfway during the recording of this album, which led Banton to fill in on bass for House With No Door and Pioneers Over C) and the efferverscent drummer Guy Evans breeze through moods and time signatures effortlessly.

And then there's the incredibly gloomy House With No Door (frequently cited as one of the bleakest songs in all of prog) which is another example of Hammill's extraordinary power to break your heart with just a few words. His uncertain screamed falsetto as his "body rejects the cure" is nothing less than a lethal weapon and aided and abetted by some glorious flute playing from Jackson and a double keyboard outro (Hammill on piano and Banton on organ) it ensures that House With No Door is yet another unforgettable VDGG song.

The Emperor In His War Room is probably the closest VDGG comes to "conventional" symphonic prog as practised by the likes of Genesis. With Banton building up an enormous wall of organ sounds before a fusion-inspired solo exchange between Jackson and King Crimson's Robert Fripp guesting on guitar, this piece is a thing of beauty.

The desolation that informs much of VDGG's music charts new territory on the totally intriguing sci-fi piece Lost, "I know we'll never dance like we used to " could easily sound lame in the hands of numerous other singers, but Hammill is nothing if not an artist. The strange interchanges between beautiful symphonic melodies and harsh, occasionally discordant jazzy passages are damn impressive and I also really like the space that the band find in the mid-section when they deconstruct and then recalibrate this 11-minute epic with a monstrous ending sequence.

This wouldn't be a classic prog album without one whopper of a closing track and while Pioneers Over C probably has my least favourite vocal melody of the five brill tunes here, it is perhaps the most ambitious cut of the lot. At times barely audible, often ethereal and on occasion downright ferocious (and yet hardly containing a solo of note!) this is yet another VDGG tour-de-force that emphasises that the band's music is not for the faint-hearted.

Overall, this album is a virtually flawless exhibition of inspiring, challenging, emotionally-draining progressive rock music, and it really must be heard by everyone. ... 92% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 5/5 |


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