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Peter Hammill - X My Heart CD (album) cover

X MY HEART

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

3.15 | 57 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "X My Heart" has to be one of the most overwhelmingly touching albums in Peter Hammill's career, and I mean "touching" from the most geuninely romantic point of view. The emotional spur of the main melodies and the poetic vibration in the lyrics are echoes of Hammill's feelings regarding important issues such as giving oneself to the significant other, reflecting critically about the ego and the world or philosophy of the mind. Even the moments in which irony and constraint discomfort surface vulnerability and devotion remain the repertoire's core sources of musical inspiration. This album is really intense, despite the predominance of acoustic instrumentation: piano, acoustic guitar, strong presence of lead violins (by Gordon), saxes-flutes (by an ever masterful Jackson) and string ensembles. The rhythm section is also an accomplice here, since it usually provides more color than pulsation: no matter how full-range the energetic passages are, the whole album exudes an eerie sensibility that does not hide, as I already stated, its essential intensity. The album kicks off with an a capella version of 'A Better Time', taken away in a dreamy Medieval arrangement (monks and all). The orchestrated version of this song will serve as a proper closure eight songs after, with a very clever exhibition of interaction between the various stringed and wind instruments that builds a majestic landscape for Hammill's serene delivery (yes, he can also be very serene at times). The monk choir and the orchestra are mediums for teh enhancement, at two different occasons, of one same idea: the world is good as it is and there is no better time than now. In the middle we can find a number of gems. 'Amnesiac' and 'Narcissus' elaborate on a constant Hammill topic, the circumstances of the ego, with a gentle passion. Passion gets increasingly more overwhelming in the delicious ballad 'Earthbound', which is, IMHO, one of the most powerful compositions that Hammill has come out with during the last 15 years. The confluence between the moving vocal lines and the instrumentation is a perfect marriage. An absolute highlight of the album, indeed, as is 'Material Possession', a heavily ethnic number in which the abundant Middle East colors serve as a solid background for Hammill's criticism of consummerism. Regarding 'Material Possession', a special mention has to go to Jackson's interventions on flute and sax: he really appropriates the song, as if he led its performative direction. Also filled with exotic flavors, although not as intense as the aforesaid track, is the very good 'A Forest of Pronouns', which is, together with the first 'a Better Time' and 'Earthbound', a very good showcase for Hammillian multi-vocal layers. Overall balance: an excellent item for any goos art rock collection. "X My Heart" is a symptom of Hammill's continuing artistic awareness.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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