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Peter Hammill - In Camera CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 452 ratings

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4 stars Intense concrete prog music this is! And the last of PH's classic trilogy.

The Silent Corner Of An Empty Stage presented an upgrade over Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night's modus operandi and overall atmosphere, and yet, it was lacking a bit of edge and raw stuff as well as some maturation in the songwritting. In these, In Camera delivers, it is the last step in Hammill's growth as a singer-songwriter and a very important chapter in his future as producer of his own records, and that is enough to make it surpass his previous efforts.

However, In Camera has problems that none of his albums had to this point, which is something called uneffective musique-concrete: sure musique-concrete can be as fun to listen to as anything else crafted with care by experient hands, but this is not the case here, and I'm talking about "Magog", where poor musique-concrete drags on for too long without much happening at all, and this piece only prevents the record from ranking better than it's predecessors.

But of course, you can't take points from the good stuff because when the bad stuff is so little, and so, In Camera really has an impressive collection of loosely-arranged tunes, a bit like Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom: "Ferret And Featherbird" is confuse in the first seconds as it slowly puts itself in place and Hammill's voice takes over; "No More (The Submariner)" paves the way for the synth overdubs of this album and The Future Now, here, majestic overdubbed riffs of ARP 2600 run beneath the surface in bubbles of ideas while the lyrics focus on the theme of identity and freedom in a passionate and angry vocal performance; "Tapeworm" is an unconvincing rocker with lyrics too convoluted to make it a classic even if the main riff is powerful, that said, you haven't lived if you never heard it's acapella bridge; the gorgeous ballad "Again" may sound too sappy for some people, but that is until the angular backwards guitar arrives to close it; "Faint-Heart And The Sermon" was performed by VdGG on a regular basis between 1975-76 where it became a beautiful dark-prog number, here, however, it is grandiouser but less heavy, at least that's what the addition of synths and mellotron and absence of sax and organ point at; the melodies underlining "The Comet, The Course, The Tail" played by bass, 6-string and 12-string are to kill for, and the song itself is one of Hammill's best, no wonder he almost always performs it live; "Gog" is a Van der Graaf Generator-sounding piece that benefits from the use of harmonium and the drumming of Guy Evans, the pity is that after 7 intense minutes, it slowly degenerates into the tedious "Magog", that said, the ring modulated screams of Chris Judge Smith conjure the idea of hell like nothing else.

After the avant-garde fest of In Camera, who could imagine that the lurking spirit of Rikki Nadir was ready to appear to deliver a punk-ish record? And even if his record is better than almost anything else from that dreaded time, it's nothing to really match to previous works.

JackFloyd | 4/5 |


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