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

STILL LIFE

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 1003 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When Hammill decides to write a set of lyrics about a reflective subject, he gets really intense, explosive and desperate. That's because Hammill doesn't just settle down to merely stating an idea; he needs to expose the process of grasping that idea, consider and reconsider it, then draw conclusions out of it. That is particularly true concerning the lyrics of this masterpiece 'Still Life'. Their evocative power is enhanced by the melodic lines he composes, as well as his fiery singing style. Having said that, let me say that this album is quite optimistic, not from an easy-going point of view, but regarding a positive attitude Hammill now endorses: this attitude is delivered through the typical Hammill-esque intensity. 'Pilgrims' celebrates the power of solidarity, 'La Rossa' explicates the joy of a consumated love, and 'Childlike Faith in Childhood's End' is an affirmation of the existence of a meaning to life, though it may be "hidden" or "elusive", yet it must be recognized by all means. Behind the gloomy portrait of a City of Immortals in the namesake track, lies the need to accept death as an integral part of life: if we denied it and miraclously eventually achieved it, we would be doomed to live pointlessly for ever and ever. Meanwhile, 'My Room' is a regretful meditation of a past time spent on fruitless lamentations. Musically speaking, this work signifies a fluid continuation of their previous effort 'Godbluff' (also brilliant), though I must say that I find the musicianship tighter and more impressive on this one. The dramatic ambience of 'Still Life', the combination of genuine energy and sophisticated complexity in 'La Rossa' and the epic splendour of 'Childhood's End' make them absolute highlights of this album, and their whole career as well. The majestic vibe that are displayed in the organ layers for the namesake number are really anthological, while Hammill sings about the lack of meaning for the Immortals' lives: the final sentences are literally deadly. Also deadly, but at the same time compellingly enthusiastic, is the manifesto of life delivered in the final lyrics of 'Childlike Faith'. I won't skip the intimate spirit of 'Pilgrims', nor the delicate beauty beneath the languid surface of 'My Room': in these two pieces Jackson delivers some of his most inspired sax parts ever. Let me finish by saying that this is my fave album from VdGG's second era, and I find it almost as enjoyable as 'Pawn Hearts' (my all-time fave from this band).

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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