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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover

PRESENT

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 490 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Twenty seven years is not a short time at all since the band last studio record in 1977 with The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome album but again the band still can create an excellent music like twenty seven or thirty years ago. Well, actually the band members still regularly meet and get together but only this time the made it happen to reform the band with a tangible result: "Present" album which was released in 2005. If you were there at the band's debut album during late sixties or early seventies, I'm sure you feel excited with this album as is the case with me. Not eaxactly, because I knew the band quiet late i.e. through Godbluff album if I remember correctly. But then I chased other albums by the band. And now, they are reformed. Yeah! Prog never die.!!!!!!!!! Who knows, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford reform Genesis and record another album in 2006?

Every Bloody Emperor (7:03) [Hammill] kicks off the album wonderfully with an ambient music and cymbals and flute works to welcome powerful voice of Hammill in low register notes, very typical old days Hammill's singing style with "By this we are all sustained: a belief in human nature .". Oh man . what a great opening! It sounds to me that I'm listening to the band's seventies album with new recording technology. As usual, Hammill's voice brings the music into variation of high and low points wonderfully. The music that comprises flute, organ and soft drum work with mostly use cymbals and soft snare sounds. Again, Hammill's voice accentuates the music while the flute and organ seems like following the lead from Hammill. I would say that this is a vocal-oriented song. During interlude, organ and sax play their parts beautifully. It's a masterpiece track.

Boleas Panic (6:50) [Jackson] is an excellent instrumental track that features improvisations of sax work by David Jackson accompanied with a floating music that flows wonderfully throughout the song. I like especially on the time signatures used during this track where the drum beats really help articulate them and have enriched the textures of the song. You can also hear some distorted guitar sounds which are actually very rarely happened at early music of VdGG. Melody-wise, this song is oriented towards simple melody but the sax improvisations and increasing sounds of rhythm section have made the song seem rich in arrangements.

Nutter Alert (6:11) [Hammill] starts with a punch of keyboard followed with a music that features sax sound in a distant voice followed with energetic Hammill's voice in high register notes. Hugh Banton's organ work is soaring at the background featuring saxophone fills during singing verses. Banton also gives his simple solo organ in the middle of the track. Yes, it's simple but it's very nice especially when Jackson's sax continues the solo while the rhythm section does seem to change a lot from the beginning of the track. Another excellent track.

Abandon Ship! (5:07) [Evans/Hammill] sees the band's exploration into avant-garde music. It starts off with distorted guitar riffs followed with intermittent drum work and full music with sax and organ enters the music. Hammill's voice enters the music while the rhythm section sounds like disjointed but they form good harmony. The interlude part with more obvious organ sounds and sax is really good. Hammil's voice turns into high register notes. The song seems unstructured at the ending part - that's why I call it avant-garde due to the ending part.

In Babelsberg (5:30) [Hammill] continues the distorted guitar exploration like it was featured previously with preceding track. In this track the band continues its venture into an unstructured composition but it sounds really nice. There is still intense improvisation for each instrument especially sax but Hammill's voice is also improvised here.

On the Beach (6:48) [Jackson/Hammill] is a mellow track that features dominant vocal accompanied by improvised saxophone, using organ and soft drum work as main rhythm section. Like the opening track, this song is led by the singing style of Hammill and saxophone during interlude part. In terms of style this song is flowing in ambient with organ and sax as main contributors.

Overall, Disc One contains excellent music that represents the music of old Van der Graaf Generator style with brilliant composition and delivery. The beauty is that even though all members are pretty old already by now but they still can make excellent music like they did in the seventies. I would rate this album with four stars rating for Disc One only. Disc Two contains jamming session by members of the band and it does not attract me at all. In this review, I omit my opinion about disc Two. This review only applies to Disc One. I don't want to comment disc two as I do not like the jamming sounds - it seems to me unstructured and has no direction at all. So, why bother spinning the Disc Two? If there is a version that contains Disc One only, I would highly recommend you to purchase the CD. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |

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