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Peter Hammill - The Fall Of The House Of Usher (New Version) CD (album) cover

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (NEW VERSION)

Peter Hammill

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars I made friends with this is opera in a rather spooky way. I had mail ordered the album, but didn't recall it ever arriving in the mail. So one night, 3am in the morning, I was quite surprised to find it lying on my table, still wrapped in cardboard. Somehow I had forgot it ever arrived (of which I have no recollection to the day)... Anyway, eagerly I got the CD out of it's wrapper and put it on, sitting on the floor in dim light with headphones, reading the libretto booklet as the album progressed. After the 77 minutes or so, I didn't know what to think. It was quite a heavy experience, especially as I had to put a lot of focus on following the story. The next day I listened to it again, focusing more on the music and a night's sleeps had done wonders, as I found the album a lot more accessible and immediately fell in love with this work of art. I haven't heard the original version of The Fall of the House of Usher, but what I can say is that this new version is awesome and leaving out drums was probably a good choice, I'd imagine.

The music is haunting and fits the mood of the Edgar Allan Poe story. All vocalists perform really well, Sarah-Jane Morris (as the chorus) has a really unique voice and she fits the role perfectly, adding to the mood of the album. Like I said, the music is mostly haunting and really dark, the couple passages with really beautiful singing from Lene Lovich as Madeline Usher stick out really well and are highlights of the album. The cornerstone everything relies on is provided by keyboards and guitar walls, both played by Hammill himself and he does a fine job. Violin by Stuart Gordon adds some air and life to the music, which leaves plenty of room for the vocals as it should be.

Probably the most ambitious album by Peter Hammill ever, this one is an essential listen in my opinion. You may or may not like it, it's not an easy listen and you may very well find yourself hating it, even if you like Van der Graaf Generator or Hammill's solo work. However, I encourage you to give it some time and several listens, as it is a true masterpiece.

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Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink

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