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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1953 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars "Pawn Hearts" gets better every time I listen to it, and is probably my favourite "Eclectic Prog" album at the moment. The musicality and chemistry on the album is just magnificent! The chords look quite mediocre on paper, but Peter Hammill REALLY brings it to life with his iconic vocal style. He's probably most in his element on this album, and the saxophonist David Jackson has also changed to a more interesting and lively direction, later refined on "Godbluff". The album cover is also very intriguing, and by one of my favourite album designers "Paul Whitehead", who also brought to life my all-time favourite: Genesis' Trespass!

Anyway, "Lemmings" is a great opener; lots of melodies with quite a nice and unique twist, and the squealing saxophones contrasted with the almost gentle purring that David produces. The tone becomes more aggressive, and about a minute through, you hear a very majestic feel after a series of confused chord progressions (in a good way). It feels so dementedly symphonic, and the lyrics fit so well even though I have no idea what they could possibly mean. Some great solos also pop up throughout, the likes of which I would have loved to have heard more of on "Godbluff". About 5 minutes, it just goes insane and so deliciously dissonant, with great areas of light and shade. I really don't know what else I can say, just an outstanding piece, and probably the perfect length.

"Man-Erg", the following track, begins as a sort of sequel to "House With No Door" (with similar lyrics to "Killer"), but includes a very indulgent churchlike organ, which goes into one of Van Der Graaf Generator's high points at "Slice my mind". My favourite track on the album, easily, and the chords, the power, the talent, the rhythms, the harmonies, are all just legendary. Of course, the song transforms into an even stronger 11/8 saxophone/organ riff, which works brilliantly, especially into those melodies at around 5 minutes ("And I am doomed"). Luckily, they don't overload you with material, and play out the track with some sophisticated piano flicks and solos before returning to the verse with an even stronger lyrical attack than earlier. The structure on here is very underrated, and the whole thing is just blissful

Right, "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers". I was dreading to review this! A 10-part 23-minute prog rock classic. Once again, more excellent lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and this time chord progressions too. Everything is there, but one criticism would be that it doesn't completely flow towards the last few sections (although they did an outstanding job!) Also goes a bit "off topic" towards the end, and perhaps becomes too forward-looking for VDGG, but I'm more than used to it now! You get haunting saxophone riffs throughout and VERY manic, stormy sections contrasting with the uneasy calm that could change at any minute. You sort of feel an empathy for a lighthouse keeper potentially becoming schizophrenic or going insane or something, because it's so delicate and detailed. Just brilliant. I really have no idea what I can say about this - it's just one of the greatest pieces of work created by any group of human beings ever. It may sound pretentious but the whole song, along with the album, can reach right to your heart and your spine in both the glorious whites and sombre murky blacks.

A+: A very risky but almost perfect prog rock album in what it sets out for. One of the most unique existences ever! An unquestionable masterpiece.

Lemmings: ***** Man-Erg: ***** A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers: *****

Xonty | 5/5 |


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