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Peter Hammill - A Black Box CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 281 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Peter Hammill - A Black Box (1980)

VdGG front-man, songwriter, vocalist and keyboardist/guitar player Peter Hammill made a serious amount of albums and A Black Box is often mentioned as one of his stronger releases (albeit most will first point to the early '70 period). On this album Peter Hammill plays all instruments (keyboard, guitar, bass and drumcomputer). The sound is a bit eighties like and due to the use of drumcomputers all tracks sound a bit static. Hammill uses '80 keyboards. The album has rock, psychedelic rock and avant-garde moments, but in the end is just a typical 'Peter Hammill'-album that fans can easily recognise.

On side one we've got a couple of worthwhile tracks. The opening track 'Golden Promises' is good rock by Hammill with a nice sound, though I aint to fond of both the eighties sound and the drumcomputer. On 'Loosing Faith in Words' Hammill gives us some real treat with heavy emotional vocals and some of his recognisable theatric lyrical themes. The Jargon King is a spoken word track with really disturbing avant-garde noise drum computers. Not my favorite here. 'Fogwalking' is also dark and avant-garde like, but this time I really like the tension and the atmospheres. Really good music for a ghost house. 'The Spirit' is a simple rock tune, good but the ugly guitar solo's of Hammill (not too skilled on some aspects of the instrument in my humble opinion) don't work to well. 'In Slow Time' is another strong dark, yet simplistic track ( a bit like 'Fogwalking'). Side one is closed with the short 'The Whipe'. Another avant-garde composition with heavy distorted drumcomputers (perhaps some tape manipulation?) and mysterious keyboard sounds, but I like it.

Side two is filled with 'Flight', a long composition consisting of about six different parts. After starting of very promising with strong song-writing I must admit I can't find anything too worthwhile after eight minutes. The tracks developed toward chaotic and unlogical compositions that aren't catchy or that atmospheric. I can't help myself asking 'why this?', 'why that?' and stuff like that. For me, this is definitely not as strong as the first side.

Conclusion. With a relatively strong first side with some highlights (Golden Promises, Loosing Faith in Words, Fogwalking & In Slow Time) and a unsatisfying second side it's hard to rate this album as whole. I'll give it three stars, but still I would mainly recommend it those who are already fan of Peter Hammill and his dark, bleak and confronting style.

friso | 3/5 |


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