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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Masters CD (album) cover

THE MASTERS

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

1.66 | 16 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
1 stars 10 Classic Tracks? In whose universe?

"The Masters" is 10 tracks of which 7 are lifted from "Time Vaults". It begins with an insipid instrumental 'Saigon Roulette' and this is a sign of things to come on this time waster. The mediocrity is a constant reminder that the band are at their best when they are indulging in weird time sigs and existential lyrics with inspirational musicianship. 'Tropic of Conversation' is lengthy and quite a decent instrumental jazz fusion exploration but is still far inferior to material on genuine VDGG albums. Hammill does inject some vocals which is pleasing; namely 'Rift Valley', that is low fi quality but at least Hammill is there, and also 'The Liquidator' with some jumpy jazz fusion. These tracks are not as creative as usual but still not too bad overall. The sax is manic throughout and it has a cool melody but still lacks that VDGG magic.

If every track had vocals and was as quirky as this it may have been a worthwhile effort. However there are too many throwaways and this is really forgettable mediocrity. Wasted talent.

'Coil Night' has that familiar sax blast and jaunty rhythm but as an instrumental it is lacking. 'Roncevaux' is very buzzy bassy low fi but actually grabs me more than a lot of these other pieces collected here. It has a strange melody and time sig, and the only thing that spoils it is the bad quality recording.

'It All Went Red' is a bad quality instrumental but it does capture some VDGG improvisational skill as the music wanders blissfully all over the map, with mad sax blasting over an incessant organ and bass driven melody. The percussion is sporadic and overall this piece would have been wonderful if not for the low fi recording.

VDGG are at their best when Hammill is in his existentialist mood and is banging on about Lighthouse keepers, Killer sharks and the intense darkness of loneliness and alienation, but these warbling instrumentals are mere time fillers. The poor quality recordings ruin what would otherwise be quite intense music. There are some nice moments but the quality is a contributing factor in why this is not a good VDGG album. In fact it is an album to be avoided for all the reasons stated, better left as a bonus CD rather than a genuine album. A real disappointment in almost every department, and whoever calls these "Classic Tracks" needs their head read! Collectors need only apply.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 1/5 |

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