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Peter Hammill - The Future Now CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 252 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This sounds very uneven, a perfect example of a transitional album. The album was released after the demise of VDGG but don't let that be your guide as the album is clearly a product of its time. Only "Pushing thirty" has some VDGG leanings due to the sax parts of David Jackson. Once again, strong emotions have been translated into excellent melodies. "The second hand" is quite a mysterious sounding track which includes an appealing bass line. Good one. "Trapping", "The mousetrap" and the wonderful "If I could" are very emotional and more or less what you could expect of him. Especially "If I could" must have been a leftover from "Over". The lyric and the folkish elements seem to refer directly to that album. Unfortunately, on other tracks there's too much experimentation. Tough the idea for the lyric of "A motor bike in Africa" may be a good way to react to the racist politics in South Africa of the seventies, musically it is quite weird. Not much of a song really, only a computer kind of rhythm with Hammill's voice on top of that lacking any substantial melody line. The tale of this album clearly is the most experimental. "The Cut" is another weird track but it does contain a good melody. The end of the track nicely flows into "Palinurus" which is based on a piano riddle and some wonderful vocal melodies. Here the weirdness is preserved for the arrangements which I don't mind at all as it works quite well. One thing's for sure, if Hammill wanted a new direction after "Over" he couldn't have done it better. On this site PH is listed under the symphonic prog flag but this album couldn't possibly by be less symphonic, the only sign of prog are the vocal harmonies of "Medieaval" which show some resemblance with Gregorian music. As a rock album it is an interesting, intriguing album. Some tracks do belong to the best material the man's ever done but on some tracks the electronic sounds seem to come close in spoiling the excellent melodies. On the lyrical side Hammill takes his views on interesting social issues instead of the introspective themes that dominated previous albums.

In 1978 this album sets the scene for a series of records that would follow. Hammill explores new electronic sounds and rhythms in the arrangements of compact pop songs. While several trademarks of the past are still present, the long epics seem to have gone for good. The arrangements have more in common with the Berlin period of David Bowie than VDGG or his earlier solo work. Prog purists better listen to other PH releases but those who are also interested in good song writing combined with electronic arrangements will like this one also. These bands this can't be called commercial in any way as Hammill integrates the new influences in his music in his own unique manner. Although this may have shocked many fans in 1978, taking his whole carreer in consideration, this really is vintage Peter Hammill as his ability to write inspired melodies is still there. Hammill adapted his sound to the trends of the end of the seventies. Maybe that's the reason why the album was named "the future now" and maybe he was right. I don't think it sounds outdated when hearing this today.

Fishy | 3/5 |


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