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Peter Hammill - What , Now? CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.25 | 81 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Peter Hammill's "What, Now?" is a softer album for the visionary of Van der Graaf Generator. It contains some mesmirising beauty such as the lovely 'Far-flung (across The Sky)' with Hammill gentler than one may have heard him. There are true moments of heart felt poetic splendour such as on Wendy & The Lost Boy; "Sometimes the boy denies the man, sometimes the boy defies the man, flying in the shade of Peter Pan, Wendy, maybe you still remember this, a touch a kiss, that lasts forever, but time and tide runs in conspiracy, Wendy, I still believe the promise is the boy 's alive, the boy is in the man!"

Apart from the emphasis on tranquil ambience, there is a fair share of heavier songs such as the awesome 'Here Come The Talkies' clocking almost 10 minutes and featuring Hammill's angular guitar riff. He is more aggressive on this and it is definitely one of the better tracks of his solo career. At about 7 minutes in the song settles into a relaxing piano and serene vocals as a stark contrast.

It is nice to hear David Jackson's saxophones and flute on 'The American Girl' and 'Edge of the Road'. This latter song has a beautiful intro with the sax following along slide guitar and Hammill's thought provoking vocals. There is a dreamy atmosphere on this 10 minute track that has a calming effect. The lyrics are compelling; "someday he'll make his way home, will the man of the moment finally make himself known, and lay down his load, at the edge of the road." At 5: 40 the song becomes entrancing with a flute solo and chinking percussion, as a low drone intensifies creating an ominous atmosphere. Jackson's sax is tantalising, he is so welcome on these solo albums, adding more depth and emotion. This song is definitely one of the highlights of "What, Now?"

At times Hammill regresses to the darker textures that he seems to revel in on every solo album, in this case the darkest track is the boisterous creepy 'Fed To The Wolves'. Stuart Gordon's violins screech very eerie tones as Hammill unleashes guitar crashes to generate an ethereal soundscape. It goes on a bit too long without enough variation but still holds interest for the most part.

'Enough' is also darker with some eerie music and a low chanting male choir. Hammill lapses into his reflective mode thinking about life and death, "not that, but this, not why, but how, not if, but when, not soon, but now." The soundscape is rather abnormal, sounding dissimilar to anything Hammill has done before.

'The American Girl' also features beautiful sax tones. Hammill's storyteller vocals have more urgency as he sings of the girl who "blew in like a breath of fresh air", and "cut her teeth on the old world" that "seemed perfect". She has a major clash with the culture, and the language, and thus feels confused in this new land. A short song but with interesting content.

The songs are not as memorable as his earlier material but this solo album is still very good with some moments of brilliance and overall I was quite surprised at how consistent this relatively unknown album is.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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