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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.65 | 596 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I think it's fair to say that Van Der Graaf Generator never quite made another album like this one. The substitution of David Jackson's flute and sax by Graham Smith's violin alone makes it unique. And quite often, the tepid nature of the players backing Peter Hammill (keyboardist Hugh Banton is also absent) makes this album feel much more like a average Hammill solo album than a big-balled VDGG effort. By this time, the gloss of the dazzling comeback album Godbluff had quickly worn off, and despite a brave effort to re-think the band's line up with a more taut presentation of the songs, VDGG had clearly sacrified too much to be able to keep that tenous hold on the magic that had once made it so compelling.

Still, for every tedious track like Lizard Play and The Habit Of The Broken Heart, there's some quality VDGG fare like Last Frame and The Siren Song. Admittedly it's hard to get past the concessions to mainstream art rock sounds (I dare say that one of the better tracks here Cat's Eye - Yellow Fever Running sounds a lot like the Electric Light Orchestra, while David Bowie/Talking Heads moments also abound!), and it does feel as if the band has sublimated its identity without finding a new one that it is comfortable with. Certainly there's quite often a thin feel to the overall sound, whereas in the past, the band showed great mastery of the use of dynamics and density.

It is of course the classic paradox of the progressive rock band ... VDGG did indeed move on, but not necessarily to a better place, and hence one finds oneself yearning for more of the "old stuff". The times when Smith's violin works makes this an essential detour for VDGG fans, but I'm not sure everyone else needs to drop in on this album. In fact, I'd have to say that this is probably the least accomplished studio album VDGG ever put out, although because it does offer more variety than the likes of Still Life and World Record (without ever reaching the heights of those album's best songs My Room (Waiting For Wonderland) and Wondering respectively), I do turn to it more often than the afore-mentioned pair. ... 55% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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