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Van Der Graaf Generator - World Record CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.82 | 712 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So here it comes, the album that completed the trilogy of Van der Graaf Generator's second era. The main virtue of "World Record" lies in the instrumentation, which bears a more powerful vibe than on any of the two preceding gems ("Godbluff" and "Still Life"), but the main shortcoming comes as a real handicap for the opportunity to make a third masterpiece in a row. That shortcoming is the unevenness of the material - yes, the material is not as strong as to comply the VdGG standards regarding energy, drama and sonic adventure. It is not that the material is terrible or mediocre per se, but you cn tell that there is an exhaustion in the musical vision generated in Hammill's mind and portrayed by the band as a unit. Once again, the unit works very well as an ensemble, but definitely it is very obvious that their instrumental interactions are more robust than most of the musical ideas that are perfomed and delivered. The delivery outdoes the delivered item. 'When She Comes' kiccks off the album with a weird intensity built on a crescendo that gets to its first pinnacle for the first chorus, and onwards, we can feel a reasonable yet not especially amazing set of arrangements around the main motifs. The follower 'A Place to Survive' is a real rocker, seasoned with a slight yet noticeable touch of R'n'B: it is a very pleasant number, following a trend not too common for VdGG standards, that is, an energetic rocker based on dual riffs of guitar and organ and expanding on a constant tempo. Sure Hammill did stuff like this in his solo albums, but this is the first time that VdGG patently approaches a less complex side of avant prog. Actually, less complex doesn't mean comfortable, and the guys can really stir things up in a creative wy while the track goes on and on until its final fade-out, 9+ minutes later. The album's first half finds its apex with 'Masks', a typical Hammillesque angry ballad regarding the limitations of the ego - this track wouldn't have been out of place in any of the two preceding albums, with its ceremonious main motif, magical sax flourishes and a nice shift of tempo and ambience in the interlude. 'Meurglys III' is the album's monster track, but unlike other very long VdGG pieces, this one drags and meanders for too long: had it included more lyrics and had the instrumental sections been more concise, VdGG wouldn't have needed to take 20 minutes to say whatever they intended to. The long reggae coda is only a symptom of the band's overall exhaustion: by the time the listener gets here, they can already tell that this suite lacks something big. But tha tdoesn't happen at all with 'Wondering', which has to be one of the most beautiful VdGG songs ever. Originally composed by Banton and with added religious lyrics by Hammill, this powerful, moving manifesto of clever agnosticism at the gates of death delivers an eerie mixture of Gothic-like organ textures and classy adornments on flutes and saxes, giving a proper mood for Hammill's expressions. A great ending for a not so great album - still, "World Record" deserves a good place in a good prog collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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