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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1997 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Godbluff is another achievement for this unconventional quartet. While there is nothing particularly complex about much of the music, and with few instrumental segments, this beloved album from Van der Graaf Generator is largely a Peter Hammill affair, laden with lyrics as it is. While a relatively short record, there's plenty of creativity, and I think this album my be their strongest work musically. It's just that Hammill can be a real pest.

"The Undercover Man" Scarcely audible pipes and Hammill's low, dark voice begin this first and shortest piece. The instrumental segment is one of the best moments on the album, with an excellent yet easy to follow riff and David Jackson's skillful saxophone playing. As usual, the hardest part to follow is Hammill's wandering voice, which rises to falsetto rather often. After several listens, though, the unnatural becomes natural, and his meandering vocals become an integral constituent of the work.

"Scorched Earth" Continuing directly from the previous track with a dirge-like organ, this piece delivers a change of flavor, with a heavier reliance on Hugh Banton's organ, and a heavier feel altogether. Hammill's vocals are as dramatic as ever, with several great examples of his creepy lyrical mastery. Guy Evans' drumming is spectacular during the last few minutes, which is one of the best parts of the song. The noises that conclude the piece are perhaps artistically warranted, but hurt my ears. Overall, the music is dark, and it reminds me very much of the over-the-top segments of "The Knife" by Genesis.

"Arrow" This is more jazz-oriented fare, with Evan's creative drumming, some intriguing bass work from Banton, and strange saxophone business courtesy of Jackson. It quickly becomes a melancholic piece, with mournful wailing and eerie bass playing. Hammill's denigrating voice is as vitriolic as I imagine it can be. The final instrumental moments are very good, if only because Hammill is no longer ruining it with his craziness.

"The Sleepwalkers" The lengthiest track on the album opens with a highly memorable riff on organ and saxophone. Hammill loosely follows this melody. An unexpected Latin section is a strange inclusion in this spectacular piece of music, but it is fortunately short-lived. Banton's organ at almost halfway through is absolutely impressive, almost magical, as is Jackson's forceful saxophone. The last several moments are an artistic layering of hypnotic sounds.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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