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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 497 ratings

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3 stars Present is the 9th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Van Der Graaf Generator. Itīs the first studio album release by the band since The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome (1977), so Present falls under the comeback album catagory. Compared to The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome, Present features the classic Van Der Graaf Generator lineup of Peter Hammill (lead vocal, guitars, piano), Guy Evans ( drums, percussion), Hugh Banton ( organs, piano, Mellotron, bass pedal/guitar, synthesizer) and David Jackson ( saxophone, flute). Present is a 2 disc release. Disc 1 features 6 new studio compositions by the band while disc 2 features 10 improvisational tracks. The latter is actually quite a surprise as Van Der Graaf Generatorīs songs have always been tightly constructed with little room for improvisation. Itīs always exciting to hear how the music sound on comeback albums and in the case of Present, Iīve been VERY excited. I mean 28 years is a long time and to be honest Iīve been a bit worried about my reaction to this album.

The music on Present is so unmistakably the sound of Van Der Graaf Generator that it hurts. The band havenīt lost an inch of their bite and dark intriguing approach to progressive rock in the 28 years since The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome was released. The overall quality might not be up there with the best of the bandīs output from the seventies but there are some high class compositions on Present. Disc 1 starts out really well with the excellent Every Bloody Emperor. That song imidiately sucks me into the world of Van Der Graaf Generator. Peter Hammillīs clever vocal lines and paatos filled voice, Hugh Bantonīs dark atmospheric keyboard/ synth playing, Guy Evans strong drumming and David Jacksonīs great sax and flute playing. This is how we know Van Der Graaf Generator and itīs like they were never gone. Boleas Panic is a bit different as itīs an instrumental track with soloing. Very unusual and while itīs a great track I would have preferred a "real" composition as there are enough improvised pieces on disc 2 to satisfy my need for that type of music. Nutter Alert is another dark and excellent track on the album but the quality drops a bit on the next two tracks Abandon Ship! and In Babelsberg which I guess incorporates too many regular rock elements to really make my blood boil. They are both quality compositions though. The last track on disc 1 On the Beach is a more subtle song. Beautiful but not really excellent. Disc 2 is as mentioned filled with improvised pieces and itīs a great disc in itīs own right. At 65:21 minutes it might be a bit too long for its own good though.

The production is overall very good. There are a couple of issues here and there that Iīm not too fond of, but itīs good.

Present is a good album by Van Der Graaf Generator and it even reaches excellent a couple of times, especially Every Bloody Emperor and Nutter Alert scores high points with me, but when that it said I could have wished that the whole album was on the same high level as those two songs. A 3.5 star rating is deserved. This one is close to 4 stars though.

UMUR | 3/5 |


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