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PETER HAMMILL

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Peter Hammill biography
Peter HAMMILL is one of the most unique and influential voices in prog. He was the pivotal figure in VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VDGG for short) who formed in 1967 at Manchester University. His obsession with lost love, lost faith, time, space and existence itself are the cornerstones of both his work with the band and his solo albums. He was also their principle songwriter. The classic line-up was the HAMMILL, Banton, Jaxon, Evans combo which produced the peak "Pawn Hearts", "Still Life" and "Godbluff" albums. He has since brought out at least 30 solo albums, marked by lyrics of the utmost insight (usually) and a total refusal to compromise. Their complex music, as often brutal as it was lyrical, fitted somewhat uneasily into the once and then niche of Progressive Rock. An interesting figure whose albums certainly merit investigation..!

The first of a classic trilogy in progressive rock history, "Chameleon"... and its companion pieces "The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage" and "In Camera", are as good if not better than many of the VDGG albums. FOR FANS OF PETER HAMMILL...!

See also:
- Van Der Graaf Generator
- The Long Hello

Peter Hammill official website

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All That Might Have BeenAll That Might Have Been
Box set
Fie 2015
Audio CD$21.31
$42.44 (used)
Future NowFuture Now
Extra tracks · Remastered · Import
EMI Europe Generic 2006
Audio CD$5.29
$5.76 (used)
Silent Corner & The Empty StageSilent Corner & The Empty Stage
Extra tracks · Remastered
Caroline 2006
Audio CD$5.78
$6.57 (used)
Fools MateFools Mate
Extra tracks · Remastered · Import
EMI Europe Generic 2005
Audio CD$4.35
$7.28 (used)
Ph7Ph7
Extra tracks · Remastered · Import
EMI Europe Generic 2006
Audio CD$5.48
$5.43 (used)
IncoherenceIncoherence
Import
FIE 2005
Audio CD$10.46
$10.45 (used)
FireshipsFireships
Import
Fie 2006
Audio CD$10.60
$35.99 (used)
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PETER HAMMILL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PETER HAMMILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 234 ratings
Fool's Mate
1971
4.02 | 257 ratings
Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night
1973
4.36 | 604 ratings
The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
1974
4.14 | 279 ratings
In Camera
1974
3.72 | 190 ratings
Nadir's Big Chance
1975
3.95 | 247 ratings
Over
1977
3.46 | 154 ratings
The Future Now
1978
3.65 | 149 ratings
pH7
1979
3.90 | 176 ratings
A Black Box
1980
3.48 | 130 ratings
Sitting Targets
1981
3.74 | 109 ratings
Enter K
1982
3.66 | 106 ratings
Patience
1983
3.29 | 57 ratings
Loops & Reels
1983
2.97 | 88 ratings
Skin
1986
3.55 | 91 ratings
And Close as This
1986
2.79 | 67 ratings
In a Foreign Town
1988
3.31 | 72 ratings
Out of Water
1990
3.45 | 76 ratings
The Fall of the House of Usher
1991
3.15 | 43 ratings
Spur of the moment (with Guy Evans)
1991
3.67 | 98 ratings
Fireships
1992
2.65 | 61 ratings
The Noise
1993
2.35 | 35 ratings
Offensichtlich Goldfisch
1993
3.15 | 69 ratings
Roaring Forties
1994
3.18 | 64 ratings
X My Heart
1996
2.42 | 45 ratings
Sonix
1996
3.43 | 60 ratings
Everyone You Hold
1997
3.41 | 63 ratings
This
1998
2.88 | 35 ratings
The Appointed Hour (with Roger Eno)
1999
3.91 | 66 ratings
The Fall of the House of Usher (New Version)
1999
2.63 | 51 ratings
None Of The Above
2000
3.26 | 54 ratings
What , Now?
2001
2.87 | 39 ratings
Unsung
2001
3.60 | 61 ratings
Clutch
2002
3.75 | 83 ratings
Incoherence
2004
3.57 | 70 ratings
Singularity
2006
3.27 | 81 ratings
Thin Air
2009
3.60 | 49 ratings
Consequences
2012
3.61 | 53 ratings
Other World
2014
3.30 | 20 ratings
...all that Might have Been..
2014

PETER HAMMILL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 36 ratings
The Margin +
1985
3.29 | 36 ratings
Room Temperature Live
1990
3.62 | 29 ratings
There Goes the Daylight
1993
3.61 | 28 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1995
3.07 | 14 ratings
Tides
1996
3.23 | 22 ratings
The Union Chapel Concert (with Guy Evans)
1997
4.19 | 36 ratings
Typical (Solo Performances)
1999
4.04 | 31 ratings
Veracious (with Stuart Gordon)
2006
3.50 | 12 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII
2009

PETER HAMMILL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.96 | 8 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII (video)
1992

PETER HAMMILL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 9 ratings
Vision
1978
3.00 | 1 ratings
Peter Hammill
1982
2.55 | 31 ratings
The Love Songs
1984
3.82 | 3 ratings
The Essential Collection
1986
3.96 | 13 ratings
The Calm (After The Storm)
1993
3.29 | 12 ratings
The Storm (Before The Calm)
1993
3.02 | 6 ratings
Past Go - Collected
1996
3.20 | 5 ratings
After The Show (A Collection)
1996
2.33 | 6 ratings
The Thin Man Sings Ballads
2001
3.33 | 3 ratings
Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances
2012

PETER HAMMILL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Red Shift
1973
2.14 | 3 ratings
Birthday Special / Shingle Song
1975
2.00 | 2 ratings
If I Could
1978
1.50 | 2 ratings
My Experience
1981
2.50 | 2 ratings
Paradox Drive
1982
2.00 | 2 ratings
Film Noir
1983
2.26 | 8 ratings
Just Good Friends
1985
1.50 | 2 ratings
Painting by Numbers
1986
1.50 | 2 ratings
A Fix On The Mix
1992

PETER HAMMILL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Over by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.95 | 247 ratings

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Over
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Jeff Carney

2 stars No matter how much I admire Peter Hammill and no matter how much I adore so much of what he came up with in the first half of the seventies, I cannot understand the appeal of this album.

I've always wanted to like it. Always felt that given my level of appreciation for his work, perhaps I even should like it. But viewed through a somewhat objective musical lens, this album is a misstep of the highest order. A self-pity party wrapped up in often less than stellar songs, unfulfilling arrangements, less than interesting riffing and lyrical content that crosses the line between admirable self-confession and just plain pseudo-intellectual misery rants.

"Crying Wolf" starts the album in a fairly straightforward rock and roll manner. The problem is that the riff is somewhat of a throwaway and reveals a tendency that plagues some of Hammill's post- Nadir work; whereby the conceptual overrides the end result or even musical value. It's Hammill having decided that Rikki Nadir deserves a voice in his music, but to what does that concept equate? Here, I'm afraid it fails to move the meter much at all. The riff is played with little intensity. The shortcomings of Hammill's electric guitar playing give way to the concept, and the possibilities of the music struggle underneath this pretext. There simply isn't enough there in the first place to then strip things down.

"Autumn" is perhaps the best piece of music on the album. A gorgeous, twisting and hauntingly melodic song which contemplates the values in growing older in a relationship. Still, something here keeps this from being a home run. In this case, I think the arrangements are a bit cluttered and Graham Smith takes over at times when I want to hear *this* song in a somewhat more sparse manner. This is sometimes a problem for me with Hammill's work. I'll find his unaccompanied live versions of songs to be absolutely mind boggling but the arrangements on the albums to be undisciplined and a victim of the more is less approach.

"Time Heals" makes evident just what pain Hammill was enduring during the recording of this album. And despite one of his worst musical shifts about halfway through this one into a two chord piano riff that just doesn't need life, I think I should state at this point that in my book he is to be commended. Commended for being able to finish this project during a time when he was clearly in tremendous pain. I suppose that, particularly in youth, most of us understand all too well the lack of logic that sometimes follows the heart, so granted it is with older eyes that I say this; but this song leaves me wondering if this woman deserved an entire album devoted to her? Hey! She ran off with your friend, man! Come on. Talk about "over." But instead Hammill begins to spend time on this album examining his own flaws. Even asking in "Alice" whether this is really the end of the story. Clearly a moment of hope amidst his heartbreak which fails to acknowledge the deeper issue at hand: What kind of woman leaves a seven year relationship and runs off with your friend? I can't help but feel a combination of sympathy for and frustration with Hammill at this point.

"Looking Glass" is a beautiful piece of work. For some reason it reminds me of Black Sabbath's "She's Gone" in that both songs seem to be rooted in unabashed sadness and seek to never leave a drop of hope on the floor for anything but loneliness. For some reason I find Hammill's delivery here to be solid but not on par with his very best. Can't really out my finger on why. It's a damned good track. I'll leave it at that. As is "Betrayed," which follows, featuring Hammill in a pure, raw form as only he can capture.

And that about does it. By the time I get through "Yoga" and "Lost and Found" I am ready to play "The Peel Sessions" and remind myself just what a genius Hammill could be on his own. On Over, he has revealed a side to his writing which, while entirely original, lacks defined musical passion and power. It's an album for his ex, not for me.

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 Fool's Mate by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.75 | 234 ratings

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Fool's Mate
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Peter Hammill's debut album stands in relation to his solo career much like "The Aerosol Grey Machine" does to his output with Van Der Graaf Generator: as a worthwhile anomaly separate from the main body of his recorded work. The album is notable for its refreshing lack of tortured self- analysis, placing it alongside the sunny proto-punk of "Nadir's Big Chance" as the easiest Peter Hammill album to digest in a single sitting.

Compared to subsequent efforts it can appear disarmingly facile at times. Song titles like "Happy" and "Sunshine" suggest an uncomplicated optimism rare for such an otherwise thoughtful artist. And "Vision" stands as arguably one of the purest love ballads ever written, by Hammill or anyone else. But as always there's more to the album than what first meets the ear, and when played in isolation there isn't one song here that isn't unblinkingly honest, or less than typically literate.

Even the jaunty album opener "Imperial Zeppelin" undermines its own Utopian vision of rising above a planet where "hate is seething / nothing's worth believing" with a quick, cold shower of fatalism uncommon in 1971: "Of course we all know very well / It wouldn't work, but what the hell..." And that's during one of the album's lighter songs! By the time Hammill begins slashing at his acoustic guitar with unconcealed fury (in the otherwise gently reflective "I Once Wrote Some Poems") it's clear a very different and darker species of butterfly was emerging from its musical chrysalis.

Very little here conforms to the accepted Prog Rock stereotypes of the 1970's, except the creative thinking and restless intellect ("Let me sleep / Let me dream / Let me be!" he implores us in "Re- Awakening"). At this early stage of his career Hammill was already staking his position as a uniquely personal singer-songwriter, standing apart from the Progressive Rock ideals of the time. Despite the crowded guest list on his first solo album, including all his Van Der Graaf pals, plus Robert Fripp and members of Lindisfarne, Hammill was (and remains) the driver, chief mechanic, and conductor on a bandwagon of one.

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 Other World by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 53 ratings

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Other World
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Impressive but...

Soon after that I had heard "The Silent corner and the empty stage" beacame I very curious about hearing the totally new record by htis romantic hero, Peter Hammill, the record "Other world" from 2014 which is done together with guitarist Gary Lucas.

On the cover we see and area of antoher planet and it feels like the theme of emptyness is present also here, but actually even more here. I was overwhelmed when I realized that Peter Hammill could still perform pure musical art just as that romantic stage poet he is. On "Other world", Hammill's thirty-eighth studio album it's just he and Gary Lucas, the guitarist who play. They do perform impressive things on these minutes. Lucas is a great guitarist who can capture every feeling and play both rough and sophisticated.

But, when I am impressed do I just rate this three? Well I think the record is too calmed down, too ambient and partially even too weird. I like experimental stuff and I know it's progressive but I want to hear more of the Hammill I am used to. I would like to recommend some beautiful songs though such as: " Of Kith & Kin" a quite acoustic song with the famous voice poet telling us the truth and "Cash"- rough and mighty , "This is Showbiz" - fast and furious, "Black Ice" an experimental beauty and "The Kid" which all deserve (8/10) from me. Some of the others are also good but I wouldn't recommend them.

This is definitely a record for fans of Peter Hammill but perhaps even more for fans of very experiemtal and/or calm ambient music. I look forward to hear all the other Hammill records!

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 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.36 | 604 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars Peter Hammill was born in London 1948 and has a huge discography of progressive rock. I know him particularly for his twelve Van der Graaf Generator record but he is also a solo artist which has done thirty-eight records. These records was in the beginning done with the same line-up such as Van der Graaf Generator so it's not strange that I like this record very much. "The silent corner and the empty stage" from 1974 is Peter Hammill's third studio album. It is amazing that this one celebrates its fourtieth birthday this year. The cover is discreet, showing something soft I don't figure out. The line up is Peter Hammill of course who plays guitar, piano, bass, harmonium, keyboards, mellotron and oscillator and sings, Randy California who plays guitar, Hugh Banton who plays organ, guitar and keyboards, Guy Evans who plays drums and percussion and David Jackson who plays flute and saxophone. So it's almost a common Van der Graaf Generator-record. But I would consider this record different from VDGG anyway. The compositions are more artistic and romantic and not as bombastic, even if they're bombastic enough.

I haven't heard this many times but I know that I love this record. If a musician wonder how to do rock music as pure art this is the answer. The music is brutal as punk and the vocal performance of Hammill is monumental. He extends the though of what you can do on an empty stage. When you listen to this record the stage is definitely not empty anymore. The record has also a longer playing time than other lp:s which is great. The record starts with the new thinking and heavy "Modern" which hits the romantic level this album happens to stand for(9/10). The "Wilhelmina" starts which is one of the most lovely songs I have found in a very long time. The lyrics, the melody and Hammill's vocals make my feelings swell over(10/10). "The Lie" is almost as fantastic, a track of a genius(10/10) and "Forsaken gardens" has a lot of drama and the famous Jackson saxophone and I love this too(10/10). The little acoustic piece "Rubicon" is the least fantastic part of this album(8/10) because the bottom is high. The final is of course "A louse is not a home", the longest track which is a fantastic symphonic tale for those ears which are not afraid of new thinking rock and cacophony. How I wish more musicians were blessed with a musical mind as Hammill(10/10). This record has a self-written place in every prog rock collection and I do not doubt a second to rate this high. A have hard to pick the best songs but "Wilhelmina" holds a special place in my heart, partially because I love the name, and the final "A Louse is not a Home" can you not hear to many times I pick them.

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 A Black Box by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.90 | 176 ratings

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A Black Box
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by madcap68

3 stars Even the biggest heroes can err...

As we all know, don't we, Peter Hammill isn't only one of prog's most prominent visionaries (and one of my all time favourites, see the hero above) but also invented punk rock. Sort of... With Jargon King and The Wipe he also invented the weird genre of Jungle Prog Step or whatever, which really doesn't work for me. I use to constantly sing Peter's praise to my friends and colleagues but I come back to these two tracks that even the most valiant heroes... er, yes, we had that one before..

On the other hand, we have the epic Flight, which combines "classic" Hammill with his Wave style offerings. At least in parts, Flight makes for a 5 star candidate. I also like the dark and moody Fogwalking but all in all, for me, this is one of his weaker albums.

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 The Appointed Hour (with Roger Eno) by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.88 | 35 ratings

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The Appointed Hour (with Roger Eno)
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars The audiophiles who knew too much!

I am going to bore you a bit, about how this "The Appointed Hour", 1999, music experiment came upon. On a specific hour and date, Roger Eno in his "studio", miles away of Peter Hammill´s one, recorded unconnected from each other for an hour exactly and then stopped at the same "appointed hour". Then met afterwards to mix both impro/compositions... Mmh! All of this, promptly explained in its packaging. Also an emphasis that - no overdubs or time/syncs were used. That shows how happy they were with the actual results!

The progger's ratings are quiet average. And then again, the average young progger does not even consider this kind of music to be prog for starters!..., I mean, "modern classical piano music" with "impressionistic influences" + "ambient" and no "happy" moments, all hell broke loose!

Anyway! 20 unaltered songs came out of this "dadaistic" way of composing. Completely "instrumental", impro like, but similar in its "classic music" oriented, "ambiental" tone.

All tracks do behold an above average quality, some are shinier, some others more "impressionistic" and some move towards the "obscure", but really all catch your attention, beyond a purist prejudice of this way of songwriting.

As I listen, Satie's and Debussy's piano pieces come to mind, as a reference not a comparison. "No masterpiece but neither trash!", ***3.5 PA stars.

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 Fool's Mate by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.75 | 234 ratings

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Fool's Mate
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate (1971)

Van Der Graaf's frontman Peter Hammill's first solo-album comes right at my favorite moment of VdGG history. The sound of the band of the '69-'71 period was especially well put onto record by producer Mark Anthony, whose absence in later years in de studio would be a disadvantage to the band in my opinion. I just love that soulfull sound with the pastoral reverbs and classic- rock organs of 'H to He' (1970). Moreover, Peter Hammill's voice sounded best in this period in my opinion. Soulfull, free, deep, emotional - but not too troubled.

Fool's Mate feels to me like a logical step forward from the VdGG debut 'Aeresol Machine', which originally was planned to be Peter Hammill's debut. The songs are short, tight, slightly adventerous without being bombastic. Clearly progressive and innovative, but without the elements that would eventually lead to progressive rock's demise. All songs are original in their own way and the performances of Peter Hammill are destinctively different on every one of them. Some songs are playfull and could even be considered to be happy-sounding, whilst on side two slightly darker (but not bleak!) compositions give depth to the total listening experience. VdGG is present as a backing band, but the sound is often a bit more eclectig with use of more instruments. The background presence of Robert Fripp on one of the later songs can't be missed by the fans.

This is a perfectly enjoyable record from start to finish. I liked it at first spin, I adored the eight spin I've just had. One of Peter Hammill's finest, happiest and most easily approachable. Only stubbern masochistic progressive rock listeners would look down on such a fine album. Five stars!

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 Other World by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 53 ratings

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Other World
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars This is a very interesting album, because it is not a normal Peter Hammill release. It really is a collaboration with lots of ambient passages. You will get your fill of Peter Hammill, but Gary Lucas is equally felt on this release. The title is fitting, because this release is experimental space rock in many ways and rewards a very patient listener. If you are looking for something different, but very familiar at the same time, this is a great choice. With the exception of And Close as This and A Black Box, this is his best album since the 70s.

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 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.36 | 604 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Peter Hammill's solo stint during Van der Graaf Generator's original hiatus continues in 1974 with the album ''The silent corner and the empty stage''.This was another record to feature the member's of the demised legendary British band minus bassist Nic Potter, who decided to focus on the attempts on the newly established Long Hello, a jazzy-flavored instrumental group of a Hamill-less Van der Graaf Generator line-up.However the new album features the surprising appearance of Randy California in one track, the guitarist of Psychedelic Rockers Spirit.''The silent corner and the empty stage'' was recorded during two periods, spring and autumn of 1973.The ever-supporting Charisma was once again the labelhouse to support another Van der Graaf Generator-related album.

Reputedly all these early Peter Hammill albums contained material intended for inclusion in future VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's albums, but this one sounds more like a team effort than Hammill's second album and for the first time so close to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's classic style.And what a team effort it was!It contains a mix of lyrical pieces with full-blown Prog Rock deliveries, based on an epic keyboard sound, an incredible balance between electric and acoustic moments and discreet sax/flute drives with Hammill's voice being deeper and more expressive than ever.The music follows the dark lines of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR with hidden jazzy flavors, atmospheric orchestrations and poetic singing, completing powerful, haunting and complex songs with great instrumental work, full of unexpected twists and sinister moods.The smoother pieces are mostly based on Hammil's unique voice, supported by his piano, guitar and sporadic organ, sax and flutes, but even these tracks are not easy for the non-mystified listener, evolving from poetic atmospheres to Classical nuances to pastoral, acoustic interludes.For the longer and more complicated pieces, words are poor to describe the monumental atmosphrere this group of musicians could create.From an extreme lyricism to the scratching saxophone of David Jackson, from mellow piano lines to symphonic themes, showered by Mellotrons, organs and harsichord, from psychedelic textures with abnormal structures and deep bass to minimalistic sounds with a dark atmosphere, everything seems well placed to create great, progressive pieces with an original character.

The definition of dark and doomy Progressive Rock.There are no silent corners or empty places in this album.This should be easily regarded as a Van der Graaf Generator offshoot work, which means that the content can be no other than passionate, complex and irritating.Highly recommended...4.5 stars.

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 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.36 | 604 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

3 stars An album I bought in the 70s that baffled me and left me cold but which I have revisited many times throughout the years--and more recently--due to its acclaim and curious dissonance. Though Peter's voice has never quite won me over (though his performances on H to He, Who Am The Only One are wonderful), coupled with the fact that I am not a lyric/content man have always left me "outside" music like this. Plus, I do not find any of the instrumental performances impressive or to have stood up very well over time. There seems to be a lot of starkness and relative simplicity in PH/VDGG's recording styles that leave me cold and unimpressed. "Red Shift" is amazing and "A Louse Is Not a Home" is interesting but ultimately always forgettable. There is nothing else here that I can ever attach myself to much less remember despite numerous listenings over forty years.

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