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Peter Hammill - The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage CD (album) cover

THE SILENT CORNER AND THE EMPTY STAGE

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

4.36 | 521 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neo-Romantic
5 stars Before beginning this review, I should say I've tried to find the best way to begin literally a half dozen times to fully express just how truly sublime the album is and decided that it's beyond words. I'm not the type to review an album before I feel I've had a chance to honestly assess just how strong it is based on initial impressions, lasting impact, and level of musical achievement. This album has all three of these qualities in such high regard that I can't help but rave over it. Every track masterfully crafted, showcasing Hammill's wildly diverse compositional talents. And not only that, but his lyrical talents reach a pinnacle of poetic quality the likes of which you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Everything about it, from its dark atmosphere to its almost manic level of diversity to the intriguing yet tasteful complexities us prog fans know and love is on point, and I believe everybody should at least give it a chance, whether you're a VDGG fan or not.

Modern is a driving, intense song that really captivates you and refuses to let you go from start to finish. Quite an impressive feat, considering it doesn't implement all that many instruments if you sit down and analyze its textures closely (not a single drum on the track, but I guarantee you won't miss em).

Wilhelmia is a primarily piano and vocal driven piece. It features wonderfully reflective lyrics reminiscent of "House With No Door", although directed instead at a single person rather than any anonymous listener as in the aforementioned H to He standout.

The Lie evokes the gothic with its enveloping organ, piano, and echoing vocals. If you close your eyes, you almost feel like you're in the middle of a cathedral. Dark and gloomy, yet larger than life, this piece transports you to a unique place within yourself and reaches new heights of emotion thanks to Hammill's dynamic range and expressive variety. Truly a standout that everyone can enjoy, assuming you don't get too bummed by the subject matter.

Forsaken Gardens is a track that serves as a great contrast to the first three pieces by recalling the classic VDGG sound. The first track that utilizes the full band thus far, it brings a frech energy and new dynamic that grabs your attention in a unique way. The lyric is more optimistic than the previous tracks as well if one chooses to heed the warning conveyed by Hammill's words.

Red Shift is a track unlike any other I've heard before listening to this album. Its spectral vocal texture and jazzy, experimental instrumental components create a track that to me symbolizes one of the most charming qualities of the album: its variety and willingness to venture into previously uncharted territories, as far as Hammill's songwriting goes. I will say this much about the track: DO NOT form a hasty opinion based on the first listen. It's a little more out there than most other songs within his entire artistic output by comparison, when you look at the nature of how he usually constructs and delivers his material. Given how diverse this album has been thus far, however, it feels right at home and after taking the time to give it the attention it deserves, it's one of my personal favorites.

Rubicon is a lighter track, but by no means would I regard it as a mere palate cleanser. No, this track offers a unique imagery with its lyrics. It's much more peaceful than the other tracks and offers something special, also far removed from his usual offerings. It may be more tame and shorter than the other tracks, but the album would be incomplete without it. Lyrically beautiful and its gentle textures are so inviting. A unique journey in its own right.

But then...

You hear this...

A Louse is Not a Home...

Guys and girls, I'm literally tearing up right now writing about this true masterpiece of music. Let me just say this track right here is on par with or surpasses the following: Starless, Close to the Edge, Supper's Ready, Tarkus, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers... I could go on, but in the interest of not pissing off those with differing opinions any further, I digress. This monumental track features not only some of Hammill and company's most tasteful, varied, intricate instrumental work, but the plethora of moods and emotions they evoke...it's like every possible introspective emotion will be channelled and confronted with each atmospheric change. And the lyrics! And the lyrics... You just have to hear them. I'd even say just look them up on your own even if you haven't heard the song. The poetry itself will change you. It hits you in a place within yourself you may not give enough attention, as it discusses issues of identity, feeling uncomfortable and even threatened by yourself and your surroundings, and feelings of internal homelessness and instability. His vocal delivery has always been very powerful and confronting, but here he really fires on all cylinders, almost as though his life depended on getting out this message. Almost as though by getting out this message, he can be absolved of this feeling within himself...

If you're on the fence about this album for any reason, I would say that no matter what your musical preferences are, you're likely to find something on this album you can at least appreciate. Even friends and family of mine who don't like VDGG have told me they thought this album contains qualities they can appreciate. No matter what, there will always be something new to discover within each of these songs as well. Each one its own world containing its own message, but somehow still strongly unified into one of the most cohesive collections of tunes I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. 5 stars without hesitation.

Neo-Romantic | 5/5 |

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