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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1841 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Even though my fave Van der Graaf Generator release is 'Pawn Hearts', I must admit that I enjoy their second era better, since at that stage the band was playing at its most cohesive and had reached a perfect level of sonic violence to match the passionate lyrical imagery and delirious melodic lines delivered by frontman extraordinaire Peter Hammill. 'Godbluff' was their comeback album... and what a comeback! Instead of taking off from the exuberant psychedelic forest created by 'Pawn Hearts', the foursome decided to get rid of the paraphernalia of mellotrons, ARP synths, multiple percussive instruments, and nightmarish electric devices on sax, in order to approach the new complex compositions and arrangements in a tighter manner. Even Hammill's singing feels more focused on portraying the contemplative nature of his lyrics and less interested in enhancing the pathetic-oriented twists on vocalizations: actually he doesn't give up on his expressionist essence, but now he's assuming his singing role as such. Banton's role keeps itself subdued i nterms of soloing, but is determining in the building of textures and clever chord progressions. Most solos are left in charge of Jackson's saxes and flutes, which he plays with a somewaht down-to-earth attitude. Meanwhile, Evans displays his jazz leaning more freely than ever before, and he does so with such fluency that he seems to want to hide the fact that being a drummer in a bass-less* band that loves to stick to complex rhythm patterns is not a hard thing to do. 'The Undercover Man' kicks off the album with full splendour: its crescendo entry and its delicate balance of wind/keyboard sonic display makes it a strong starting point, despite the fact of it being basically a 7+ minute ballad. 'Scorched Earth' is the most symphonically oriented number in the album - special mentions go to the majestic interlude and the awesome closing section: in many ways, this song is quintaessentially VdGG-esque. 'Arrow' is another introspective Hammill tune that eventually ended up as a jazz-rook infected tour-de-force, allowing the lyrics to expand their imagery's power. Finally, the closing track 'The Sleepwalkers' displays an air of ironic joy sustained over a martial-like rhythm pattern, also including some proper touches of latin jazz, as well as a R'n'B oriented instrumental interlude: Evans' playing on this piece is particularly awesome, but again, this is an owesome band... right? I give it a perfect rating since I consider it one of the most brilliant comeback albums in prog history, and it also qualifies as a brilliant work in itself.

* OK, Banton plays some bass lines, and handles a mean bass pedal board as well... but you know what I mean.

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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