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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.43 | 2220 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Pawn Hearts. One of the indispensable albums of the prog rock universe. A true treasure. I bought this cd when I was a teenager in the 80's and it took me some time to get into. To me it was completely off the wall. Once in sank in, I was hooked for a lifetime. Like Yes's Close To The Edge, Pawn Hearts was VDGG's pinnacle of a trilogy of amazing albums and coincidentally contains three extended pieces. To my ears this is the only VDGG album that appears to be a high budget album that marks the apex of their creativity. All three tracks are bona-fide prog rock masterpeices.

Lemmings starts things off in a hurry. Once the acoustic guitar, flute, wind and organ passage opens things up, Peter Hammill begins his observation of humanity's Lemming-like behavior as human progress sends us towards our impending doom. Amazing song that's inquisitive, panic stricken and offers a glimmer of hope. The music is so powerful and effortlessly executed despite the challenging time signatures and moods. This song's structure is indeed unconventional to say the least as the song ends in a languid, descending manner.

Man-Erg. One of Hammill's many introspective pieces dealing with different characters inside his mind. Starts off mellow with piano with Hammill introducing the killer an the angels inside him. A cry for help in the middle section with wild saxes and keyboards . After this he is able to see more characters of his personality of mischIef and wisdom. I absolutely love the dreamy sax solo eventually intertwining with Robert Fripp's minimalist guitar producing an amazing effect. The song culminates with Hammill finally asking himself if he is able to coexist with the many parts of himself it still without definitive answers.

A Plague Of LightHouse Keepers. After two brilliant pieces comes the coup de grāce. Where very few pieces in prog rock can rival. Due to the deft tape editing (of it's time), studio wizardry and above all instrumentation, they were able to take on a monumental task of matching music to the imagery of a person in isolation dealing with so many evils, insecurities and mayhem. Almost as if his mind is devoid of the filters that keep one sane. The whole setting of a lighthouse keeper depicting loneliness, true solitude and being "too far out I'm too far in" really evokes the madness of extreme inner turmoil. Many different parts make up this song like truncated songs, if you will, sketching out the detailed mania.

So there you have it. I will admit that Hammill's voice, although incredible, is not conventional. But in a prog rock atmosphere, it is voices such as his own that can take music much further or to different places. Hugh Banton's textural organ guides most of the work with his undaunting skill. David Jackson augments the music with his truly original sax work often providing moods of his own. A special acknowledgement goes to Guy Evans. Music's most underrated, under appreciated drummer.

ster | 5/5 |


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