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Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1962 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars 14.5/15P. Unapologetic - nothing more and nothing less.

There are many bands which make it absolutely difficult for later bands to take up their very own style. But this band, at least in this particular state, created an album which forbids any musician to even think of getting acute inspiration from the substance of this music. Everyone who imitates Peter Hammill, his deliberate anti-singing and the omnipresent deranged roaring, is clearly bound to make a total prick out of himself - unless he covers Hammill's compositions with a sufficient amount of respect.

Over 45 minutes these four savages bluster recklessly through a set of compositions which don't sound like any kind of music which came before. A misty-eyed hymn about concepts of human spirit (such as the main theme of Man-Erg) leads into avantgardistic jazz fusion based on riffs without any sensible pattern which in turn segue into paranoid crying on top of a manic drum rhythm. This doesn't only precede the whole death metal genre, but also betters all I heard from these bands in terms of intensity and sheer power. And when you think that the song must now end in a complete cacophony, Peter Hammill surprises you with another melody which would be too sweet and blissful to actually like if you had not stood through lengthy reflections about futility and death in all supposable forms before. Even if you were able to mix up Earthbound live version of King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man with Mikael Akerfeldt's Bloodbath tracks and Genesis' Who Dunnit? you wouldn't get a depiction of anger and human faultiness half as vivid and remarkable as this album.

I am aware of the fact that most of the people reading this review already own this album. But those who don't, and especially those who are rather frightened off by these descriptions of the featured music, should know that this album is rather cathartic than disquieting. You can analyse this album, the meaning of the weird Mellotron solo in A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers or the concrete number of overdubbed vocal tracks in the loudest parts of Lemmings, but you might as well listen to the music and concentrate on the feelings it evokes in you. This album - pretentious, inspired and totally convincing at the very same time - beats most of the other progressive rock epics easily, serves as a prototype of not only a few genres of music and hence should be part of any serious music collection, not only the record shelf of a progressive rock fan. It could only have been surpassed by the original Pawn Hearts double album idea of the band. Listen to the live-in-studio-version of Squid/Octopus on the band's previous album which was originally scheduled for this release and you'll see what I mean. Not only recommendable, but obligatory - buy!

Einsetumadur | 5/5 |


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