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Peter Hammill - X My Heart CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars Unquestionably a masterpiece. The first song tells us that it will be not a normal album but very beautiful and reflective album. The lyrics which are sung by Hammill are marvellous. "As surely as the countdown begins our time is not our own..." "This is the life and we've only time to be alive right now..." This things make me feel really alive!!!
Report this review (#18762)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is not so much a bad Peter Hammill album as an unnecessary one. I'm sure it was necessary for Hammill, as he's never at a loss when it comes to purging his psyche. But we don't necessarily have to watch every gory minute of it, either. 'X My Heart' is on the more plodding side of his output, his voice finding that talk-singing middle ground some of his fans find frustrating. Add to that a lack of real musical action to hold on to, and you have a trying listen ahead. It's not his darkest or most depressing, it's not his's not his most minimal and it's not his most sort of treads water in between all that, a monochrome set of songs mandatory only for the Hammill completist.

There is nothing one could call truly bad here, but things like "Ram Origami", "A Forest Of Pronouns" and "Narcissus (Bar & Grill)" are like watching an obsessive-compulsive wring his hands under the sink for the thousandth time. We've heard this stuff from him countless times in the past, and usually to much better (and fresher) effect. Even onetime Van Der Graaf Generator cohort David Jackson doesn't save the day with his sax and flute work. The only real remarkable musical performance worth paying for is Stuart Gordon's smoothly delivered violin note-mania throughout the end of "Amnesiac". Much of the material is hurt by the synthetic/thin "drum" sounds. Even though Manny Elias is credited with drums & percussion, much of it sounds like, and is quite likely a drum machine. This can't help the already dreary and gray plod of the material. The best moment comes twofold in "A Better Time", which bookends the album, the first being an a cappella rendition, the other a piano- and-symphony arrangement. This song stands as one of Hammill's most convincing vocal performances, a hopeful light inside an otherwise claustrophobic tunnel. Bravo Peter. even on your least remarkable albums you always manage a slice of genius or two (see the brilliant "A Way Out" on the otherwise so-so 'Out Of Water' album).

Report this review (#18763)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are few reasons why "X my Heart" is an one of most interesting albums in Peter Hammill's large (but always interesting) discography. It is a specific bridge between the climate of legendary LP's from the past, and from my point of view most powerful albums from years 1995-2005. It contains all elements necessary to understand why music of Mr. Hammill is so unique. First of all - beatiful and strong vocal (just listen to the acapella track "A better time" - there is no need to anything else, or "A forest of Pronouns" to hear His dynamite in the throat). For the second - great compromise of light and heavy weight compositions. My favourite one - "Earthbound", which sounds really enjoyable, and "A better time" in both version are the quiet part of an album. The songs like amazing "Forest of Pronouns" and "Narcissus (Bar & Grill)" are completely different - these ones wake you up, but in fantastic, intelligent way! Another songs aren't anonymous - "Ram Origami" - great song with interesting parts of David Jackson's sax, and "Material Possession, which"is the first time, that PH's song is reminding me some Ian Anderson's stuff, which I prize! The last thing, that makes "X my hearth" so valuable album are deep lyrics, and great idea to end LP in the similar way, how it is opened. Full recommendation!
Report this review (#48665)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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.
Report this review (#99804)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am deeply in love with Peter's voice (although he is not the best singer of all time, right?). At times he brings me in heaven, but not always. Like during the opening song "A Better Time". Minimalism has never been my cup of tea, and this one opens the "fire" of "X-My Heart" and sets the pace for the whole album.

The band that surrounds Peter, could (should) have been more on the forefront. Each musician is quite discreet and most songs sounds as a monologue. Peter already produced such albums: either alone or with some friends (like here). At times, one gets caught by a brilliant violin play ("Amnesiac").

Most of the time, the mood is on the quiet and dark side of the music. Monotonous and no so emotional as the great man can be. Few songs really shine on this album (but the nineties were not his best period, IMHHO) and I'm not moved with "Ram Origami". At all.

"A Forest of Pronouns" is one of the poorest track I know so far: repetitive and dull. What a pity. Fortunately, there is a wonderful song as "Earthbound" to bring us to better feelings. Don't get me wrong: this song has nothing in common with the greatest Hammill (or VDGG) numbers. Just a good song to be honest, but under these circumstances it is a highlight.

This album is quite a disillusion so far. But I can understand than an artist can't produced only great albums.

One emotional moment is the great Material Possession. Complex, passionate, beautiful. It is an outstanding number. The one which gives you shivers. Great atmospheres, subtle and disreet backing band. The highilight.

This album is quite a difficult experience. The man has used the fans to a lot better. But I'm going to be as fair as In can be. Two stars.

No question of a masterpiece which X-My Heart is absolutely not. One out of many albums the great man has realesed.

Report this review (#179589)
Posted Thursday, August 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars X My Heart is a reasonably consistent Hammill album, but unfortunately that is mostly due to the steady average quality then to any sort of excellence.

Not all songs hit the mark but there's not one without an interesting hook or angle. Especially Ram Origami and A Forest of Pronouns are strong tracks that are performed with a restrained but intense passion. Even the weakest spot for me, the ballad Come Clean isn't that bad. In fact it reminds me a lot of what Nick Cave would resort to 2 years later.

With this album Hammill healed himself from the worst side-effects of his musical midlife crisis that had lasted for 10 years. X My Heart and every album he has released since is a lot stronger then what preceded.

Report this review (#253408)
Posted Sunday, November 29, 2009 | Review Permalink

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