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Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1441 ratings

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con safo
Prog Reviewer
5 stars VdGG's second album after their glorious return with "Godbluff". The band released two of their best albums after a four year hiatus, returning to their trademark sound (slightly altered of course) The organ is much more pronounced on the later albums, with the sax being no less excellent but becoming a less pivotal instrument as it was on the earlier albums. The music doesn't suffer one bit, in fact it's a fresh change to their sound that keeps true to their earlier work yet lets the band explore more musical ideas. The album "Still Life" is one of the bands most mature releases IMO, Peter Hammill's writing style peaked during this period, his lyric work on this album is absolutely brilliant. Dense, intricate song themes that take many repeat listens to fully grasp. Whereas the earlier albums the song meanings were more literal (well as literal as Peter Hamill can get) these songs are brilliant observations of human kind, including the pursuit of immortality which eventually strips all meaning from life. The inner battle that ensues when considering destroying friendship for an intimate relationship, and ultimately where the human race is heading in this time. All superbly written backed by glorious music.

"Pilgrims" opens with Banton's sublime organ, soon joined by Hammill's beautiful voice, a great composition which ties into the album's themes perfectly. A standout passage in this song is the atmospheric and menacing "Away, away, away - look to the future day for hope, some form of peace, within the growing storm." Then exploding into the uplifting chorus that reaches emotional peaks rarely heard. Fantastic opener! "Still Life" is a wonderful track that begins with Hammill's voice only: "Citadel reverberates to a thousand voices, now dumb, What have we become? What have we chosen to be?" Hugh's organ softly floating behind Hammill's mournful voice. The song gains volume until Hugh's organ, densely layered, takes off behind Guy Evan's always fantastic drumming. David Jackson again in the background of this song but definitely add's nicely to the overall texture. Great song writing!

"La Rossa" is the highpoint of this album, and one of my all time favorite VdGG songs! Complex , beautiful and chaotic, this is song writing at its absolute finest! The song is the mental debate within, deciding whether sex is worth destroying a friendship, using a clever "Organ Monkey" metaphor. Hugh's organ shimmers and swirls, complex and brilliant, all augmented superbly by David's again submerged but excellent sax performance. The song gains momentum as the debate within is eventually resolved and the song bursts into the finale "Drown me, drown me now and hold me down before your naked hunger burn me at the altar of the night - give me life!" Thrilling conclusion! "My Room (Waiting For Wonderland), a beautiful jazzy track, angelic piano and excellent organ generated bass. The song follows a similar rhythm throughout but never gets boring. This is the song that David get's to shine, contributing some impressive solos. The song almost resembles a free jazz jam near the end, quite nice!

Still Life ends in epic splendor as we reach our final track "Childlike Faith In Childhoods End" A radiant composition, and some of the best writing Hamill has done thus far! The whole band shines on this one, the interplay between Banton and Jackson is superb and wonderfully textured. The song reaches several epic peaks, musical and emotional splendor, there's really no way else I can describe it! Hamill belts out this song in an almost prophetic manner, singing as if these were his last words. Listen for David's solo during the first climax, intense! The song ends in epic brilliance, almost taking you with the human race and they are brought to the apex of the universe, naked to all, preparing for the final day's of human kind. But hope is not lost - there is something more for the human race, a more meaningful existence, a better place for all -

And though dark is the highway, and the peak's distance breaks my heart, for I never shall see it, still I play my part, believing that what waits for us is the cosmos compared to the dust of the past.

In the death of mere Humans Life shall start!

Superb closer to this masterpiece of progressive rock! 5/5 - con safo

con safo | 5/5 |


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