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Peter Hammill - Singularity CD (album) cover

SINGULARITY

Peter Hammill

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars GREAT !! This album is definitely his most personal one depicting very private. Singularity is an uneven record but holds some real masterpieces of songs. I've been listening to Peter Hammill's compositions for some 30 years now. I've always found them to be fascinating and extremely well made. Singularity is no exception. Thank you, Peter, for sharing with us your unwavering love for your music. Thank you for continuing to create new and challenging compositions for all of us to enjoy. Mirek Pokojski.
Report this review (#102478)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Peter Hammill is a productive guy. Every year there's a new album released. Sometimes it's hard for the fans to catch up with all the material that's been released. Moreover the music of Peter Hammill is not for every day use. You really have to be in the mood for this kind of rough and emotional music. In the past this man's work has been a great source of inspiration for many rock artists (both progressive and other). This can't be a coincidence.

"Singularity" is not an exceptional or surprising Hammill album but simply a very enjoyable one. If you know what to expect from the guy from Bath, you can't possibly be dissatisfied with this album ; the compositions are most inspiring. This is Hammill at his best. On some Hammill albums, the arrangements are too bare but on "Singularity", the arrangements and production work are elaborated. There's a moody atmosphere throughout all of the album. Take "Famous last words" for an example. At the beginning only a harp and a keyboard can be heard. Gradually there's the addition of a piano, a background choir of dubbed vocals, bass, drums and again a soaring electric guitar that I always enjoyed on Hammill records. This could well be my favourite track because of the great mood and the strong melody lines. The classical elements in the arrangements are awesome ! "Our eyes give it shape" is a perfect opening track in the vein of "I'll find you" from "Fireships", only this is more rockier. The up tempo track is dominated by the acoustic & electric guitar parts. "Vainglorious boy" is a typical wild and psychotic track that could fit in on albums like "The black box" or "Roaring forties". There's a soaring, psychedelic guitar and Hammill rather shouts than he sings, Hammill fans will know hat I mean.. "Meanwhile my mother" is a seventies sounding track where the domestic intimacy is illustrated in a familiar seventies sound. There's a Hammond organ accompanied by a violin ensemble. Great melody line by the way. "Of wire, of wood" is a odd little instrumental that is reminiscent to the work of Gabriel in the beginning of the eighties. The combination of a piano solo and an ethnic percussion motive on the background has a fascinating effect. On "Friday afternoon" Hammill proofs another time what a magnificent songwriter he really is. Even though the track exists of little more than a vocal and a piano, the melodies are compelling. The last track "white dot" is definitely the strangest of the bunch. This is comparable with the material you can find on his late seventies releases. Layers of disturbing keyboards and guitars provide a sinister atmosphere. This gives the listener the disturbing feeling something isn't right and that was probably the intention. With tracks like that, I always have the feeling this has never been finished sufficiently. The roughness is typical for most of Hammill's work and this really is how he wanted it to be done. I sometimes compare his work with a rough jewel. There's a lot of musical creativity to discover on the inside but on the outside the surface isn't smooth. Die hard fans are familiar with this kind of musical chaos. New listeners better start with another track.

"Singularity" is an album that I treasure from the first moment I started listening. The songs are great and accessible, the arrangements serve the purpose perfectly. Sometimes the sound is broad and big, sometimes the atmosphere is intimate. There's a good balance between quiet moods and up-tempo excerpts. The sound of this album is timeless. It could date from the seventies, eighties or nineties. That's a good thing cause it means we still will be playing this album within 10 or 20 years. Although it's not a masterpiece, this definitely is one of his better records to my humble opinion. I wonder how it can be that Peter Hammill still sounds so vivid on "Singularity" in his older days. It seems that time has little effect on him.

Report this review (#104329)
Posted Sunday, December 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It was very "Hammillian" year for me. 14.11.2006- great gig in Prague which I had opportunity to participate and one month later I get a new album from the Thin Man.

Singularity doesn`t differ much from other Hammill`s albums. It reminds me of albums like What, Now? or Fireships. As usual it is very poetic and personal. Here almost whole album is a reflection of his heart attack that he had not a long time ago. This event was also the cause of delay of Van der Graaf Generator reunion.

First song "Our Eyes Give it Shape" is something like "I will find you" from Fireships, mayby not as beautifiul as "I will find you" but it is very good. Here Hammill sings how much he is happy to be still alive "I`m so glad that still here to see this" and he is given a new life.

"Event Horizon" This song is very different from the first, it is very peaceful and rather sad and gloomy. "Event Horizon" it`s a reflecion of process of dying. "Thinking that it`s mayby time to cross the line..." To appreciate this song you have to feel its climat and imagine what it would be like to...

"Famous Last Words" Mayby my favourite song from the album. When you first listen to this song you may consider it as something "odd" because it contains a lot of experimental sounds. I think the main topic of this song is time before dying when you try to leave good impression after death. "it`s a little too late for sorry... in a race against the clock"

"Naked To The Flame" Song about eagerness for success. Rather simple and nothing special.

"Meanwhile My Mother" mayby simple song but, for sure, the most peacefull and beautiful from the album and my second favourite. On last tour it was the only song which Hammill played live before it was issued.

"Vainglorious Boy" The song which I rather don`t appreciate. It reminds me of Narcissus (Bar & Grill) from "X my heart" but Narcissus was better song. The songs itself is not very bad but it doesn`t suit to this album at all.

"Of Wire, of Wood" I wouldn`t call it a song, rather a strange experimental piece of music it is similar to staff from Unsung or Loops and Reels. Here it suits very well to climat of the album and makes great introduction to next song.

"Friday Afternoon" It is about this like only one event can change the commmon, normal, routine life. It is another great composition from the bunch.

"Whote Dot" The last one is the strangest song from "Singularity". Very experimental and dreadful. After listening whole album and ending with this song you will be left with very dark mood. I would compare it to something out of "A Black Box" It doesen`t mean that it is something bad, but of you like Peter Hammill`s music, then you have to like it.

And so.. We have another great album from The Thin Man. It is impossible that he can still create such a emotional music as he did in the past. I have this album for about 20days and almost every night I listen to it. I program my cd player forsongs:2,3,5,7,8,9. Try play it like this. I can promise you that you will have very moody and climatic night. Now I just can`t wait to see Van der Graaf Generator in my country...

REGARDS FROM POLAND

Report this review (#108309)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Peter Pan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars All Peter Hammill albums are personal statements. Beneath "Over", "Singularity" is the most personal one. Like "Over" (1977) its origin is a border experience. 30 years ago "Over" derived from a broken long-term relationship. Now "Singularity" was written as a contemplation of a heart-attack that nearly ended Peter's life.

This album is most touching and it's worth listening closely. Peter excels in describing the minutes and thoughts, the mood and atmosphere, when death might come. Words and music stay in a sober, serious and distinguished way, which might not have been easy to achieve - given the scope of the topics that Peter is into here.

Musically, Peter produces a carefully arranged dense atmosphere dominated by keyboards and guitars, and of course his unique voice. Literally all instruments including bass guitar and drums are played by himself. Compared to "In A Black Box" he has made big progress on drums.

My favourites on "Singularity" are:

- "Our Eyes Give it Shape". The guitar-driven opener describes the moment when someone realizes he can live on and takes a fresh look at the things of life. "I'm so glad I'm still here to see this". The dynamic, edgy song holds a perfect balance between ecstatic feelings and the luring memory of having layed on the threshold of death. A gem.

- In "Event Horizon" Peter produces a relaxed and calm atmosphere that might settle when "it's time to cross the line". Splendid the middle piece with the pulsating strings imitating the "blood rush in the ears".

- "Meanwhile my Mother". This song is about Peter's mother fading away with Alzheimer. A moving song that combines pretty tune and nice instrumentation with personal reflections about one of most spread diseases of elderly people in the developed countries. Touching to find the parallels between someone living in her own world with only small connections to reality and someone lying on the ground with an heart attack and (thank God only nearly) sinking to the unknown of death.

- "Friday Afternoon" deals with the unexpected death of Peter's piano tuner who was killed by a drink driver.

One of Peter Hammill`s best works.

Report this review (#119340)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars From Fool's Mate to Singularity : it was quite a ride Peter!

Some of your work were shared with all or part of your Graaf friends, sometimes with new friends or sometimes with no friends. Like "Singularity". I hope you won't mind if I tell you that I couldn't always enter in these single efforts as I did with some more band-oriented ones. My ratings will tell you the ones I prefer.

I have had some difficult time with your last album to date. Of course, you suffered a dramatic event which could have led us orphan of new albums. Fortunately, nothing as such happened and you came back from this experience and wanted somehow to share it with us.

At times, to share personal feelings is not an easy task. The audience might either misunderstand or be left perplexed ("Event Horizon"). But since I know you now for so long (some thirty-five years), I fully appreciate "Famous Last Words". You couldn't imagine any better words as: "If I close my eyes I can pretend the best is still before me, the worst is at an end. Time for goodbyes to the audiences that adored me; they never realised just how much I came to despise all their eagerness.

You also can express such tenderness about your mother. I guess we should all learn to do it with such a talent (Meanwhile My Mother).

At times, it sounds as if your old mates are back again to assist you, but I've read that they weren't there for this album. It must be their shadows.I have also appreciated the "liquid lunch" from "Friday Afternoon". It is so true.

I would lie to you if I'd say that "Singularity" is my favourite album of yours. And between friends, one shouldn't lie, right? I'm sure you will do better next time. For the time being, two stars is my perception of this work.

Report this review (#183327)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Hammill's almost 60 here but does not show any signs of slowing down. The new millenium saw a new solo or VDGG album every year. Additionally, they were also very consistent in quality and I haven't heard many fans complaining yet. Of course, except for Hammill's Clutch and VDGG's Present, it will hardly interest anyone but the fanbase.

The firstbars on the album feel a bit ackward. Minimal (or is that inadequate) drumming sets of a song with rather far-fetched melodies. An awkward start. But from then on I'm mercilessly dragged into the unique and gripping world of Peter Hammill again.

This album has moments where it sits close to the experimentalism of pH7 and The Future Now, but it never reaches the same standard even though there are plenty of surprises, new tricks and innovative twist in both sound and melodies.

I must say that after the very weak 90's, Hammill has proven himself in better in shape in the new millenium. Another album with a strong focus on good songs with the known Hammill edge.

Report this review (#253941)
Posted Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Review Permalink

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