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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 492 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars. It had been close to 30 years since Banton, Hammill, Evans and Jackson made a studio record together. And what's so amazing about "Present" is that you would never know they had ever been apart. I have to admit I got a little giddy the first time I heard this double album all the way though. They did not compromise in any way, in fact with the second disc they made me extremely proud because they went in a direction that very few bands go these days.The second disc is over 65 minutes of improvs. No lyrics or structure, just a flavour of Free Jazz jamming with that Krautrock spirit I love so much. When I heard that second disc for the first time these guys became my heroes. So proud. Having said all that, the first disc is really classic VDGG and my favourite one to play. After all, Hammill's writing and singing for me are beyond reproach.

"Every Bloody Emperor" opens with keyboards, drums and sax and no real melody until the vocals come in. Flute and piano join in this mellow beginning. Check out the organ after 2 1/2 minutes. Sax is back before 4 minutes. This is so intense. It settles after 5 minutes as the vocals become the focus again. Great lyrics as usual from Peter. "Boleas Panic" is a Jackson composition.This instrumental is dominated by the sax and drums early. The tempo picks up after 1 1/2 minutes. Powerful stuff. It settles before 5 1/2 minutes as flute and organ take over. "Nutter Alert" opens with some nasty organ as sax and a full sound join in quickly. Vocals follow and are passionate. The sax is incredible on this amazing tune. "Abandon Ship!" opens with some distorted organ. Wicked stuff right here from Banton. Vocals a minute in. This is quite Avant and dissonant. Nasty. I love when Hammill yells "Abandon ship!" over and over around 4 minutes. "In Babalsberg" opens with more fuzz as drums come in and vocals follow. Nice bass. Great sound 3 1/2 minutes in as sax is blasting away. "On The Beach" is where I was today. Ok it's not beach weather, I just like being down there. Anyway the song opens with people talking until we get vocals with keys before a minute. Sax then light drums join in as well. It gets fuller. Cool track. Love the sound of the waves to end it. Ok so they pulled no punches on the first disc, well on disc two they hit even harder.

Check out the intensity before 3 minutes on "Vulcan Meld". Raw and nasty organ follows. "Double Bass" features these ground shaking fuzzed out bass lines as sax plays over top and drums pound. Not worthy ! "Slo Moves" is kind of spacey until the dissonance and drums take over. The remaining tracks continue with experimental sounds, distortion, dissonance and even melody. They jam and improvise in ways that leave me speechless and overjoyed.

So close to 5 stars. Maybe one day i'll bump it up. The next one "Trisector" left me shrugging my shoulders, it was just ok. "Present" left me in awe.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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