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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2050 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is the last album that VdGG recorded before they temporarily split. It is the culmination of everything the 'first generation' VdGG were all about, musical and technical experimentation, including multitrack recording. It also guests Robert Fripp of King Crimson on at least 2 of the songs, although he makes very little impact to the sound at all, and you need to strain to hear him. With only 3 tracks, each of which are over 10 minutes long, this is not the most accessible Van der Graaf Generator album by any means, but it is certainly one of the most rewarding!

-Lemmings- This song has a very 'studio' feel to it, as if there was a lot of mucking about with tapes and loops and other equipment to make it sound this way. In fact I found this the hardest song to get into. However, it is still a very good song after repeated listens. At about 5 minutes in, we reach the 'Cog' section, which is one of the darkest scariest moments of 70s prog I have heard. Progressive rock that is actually disturbing. The outro does go on quite long, although not to the point of ennui. It's my least favourite track from the album, but its still a bloody good one.

-MAN-ERG- If I had to pick one song to introduce people to VdGG, it would be this one. At 10 minutes, this a stunning track. It also happens to have penetrable lyrics (a rarity in prog rock): my interpretation is that this song is about a schizophrenic, and the different musical moods reflect his different personalities, one being 'the Killer'. I say I'd pick this song to introduce people, because on the whole it is quite easy to listen to, being very beautiful in some parts. However the 11/8 'Killer' part of the song that sets in at around 3 minutes is likely to turn a lot of people off. For any prog fan though, that section should be a definite boon. This song is very moving, and is my favourite on the album.

-A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers- The reaction you might get from listening to this 23 minute opus for the first time is comparable to the reaction you'd get from simply reading the title: 'WTF!?' However, that's not to say this track is bad. Far from it in fact. Just like their Charima label buddies Genesis, VdGG decided to put together 23 minutes of song by piecing together several shorter songs. And just like 'Supper's Ready', this track is awesome! There are a whole range of emotions flying around this track, but they are all rather dark emotions, which is standard for any VdGG piece. The track itself is very intricate with all the different parts interlocking quite well, although some of the changes between parts are rather abrupt. If you give this a few repeated listenings, and love every part of this epic masterpiece, you will find the rewards very satisfying.

This album is a definite must-have for progressive rock fans, although I would recommend listening to 'H to He, Who am the Only One' before trying this. It still deserves each of its 5 stars though.

baz91 | 5/5 |


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