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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2069 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After being mostly disappointed in VDGG's previous album, I decided to try again, being the persistent music lover that I am. Pawn Hearts is an exceptionally better album that doesn't manage to come off as goofy sounding as the previous album, but I'm still not sold on this band being as terrific as they are made out to be.

"Lemmings" is instrumentally captivating and very dark in atmosphere, but like the last release, Hammill's voice is insufferable. Some love it, some hate it. I definitely hate it. Lots of dark organ fills the atmosphere and gives the track a haunted house kind of feel. In the middle is a great acoustic-gone-avant-garde passage that is exceptional.

"Man-erg" starts off beautifully with piano but soon turns into a goofy and patriotic sounding song with Hammill's goofy vocals dominating. The music eventually turns dark and avant, and then jazzy. This avant-jazz tendency apparently is a way for this band to redeem the musical integrity of their songs after the clowny vocals give way. This keeps the music from being awful, in my opinion.

"A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" is an epic-length track at just over 23 minutes and is probably the best track on the album. It starts off sounding like Argento-film horror jazz. There is a long droning organ passage through the first half of the track, and it really sets a creepy mood that is exceptionally enjoyable, and I think it was during this portion of the song where I realized that VDGG was indeed pretty damn good, but the vocals ruined the mood. Gross. This epic maintains a fairly dark atmosphere throughout and is very convincing as an epic piece. Definitely one of the best moments in the VDGG catalog.

I feel that I can safely say that I recommend this album highly, only I wish there were instrumental versions of the album available. VDGG's vocal passages are just awful in my opinion, but the music itself is crafted masterfully and is really quite dark compared to most progressive rock. If it weren't for the vocals, I would feel compelled to give this a masterpiece rating.

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |


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