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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 490 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The real big generator of prog is back! Van der Graaf Generator gave done such a great job with this second comeback album. The sound and spirit of "Present" are firmly rooted in the artistic ground of their "Godbluff" and "Still Life" albums, but instead of self-cloning, the strategy used in this new repertoire is one of renovation within the band's own musical own confines and in their own terms. This album combines the raw energy of the aforementioned classics and the more ethereal approach that Peter Hammill created in his late 90s-early 00s albums ("This", "What, Now?"): this is what the listener has to expect from the material contained in CD 1 most of the time. 'Every Bloody Emperor', 'Boleas Panic' and 'On the Beach' have one main feature in common, and that is a reflective vibe; regarding their particular marks, it is pertinent to point out the polite angst displayed in the former during its second half and the eerie density that goes all the way through the second one. The other three songs are closer to the home of rough intensity and passionate discord that the generators used to inhabit back in the 70s - 'Nutter Alert' and 'Abandon Ship!' bring back the old weird prog with aggressive jazzy undertones and abundant psychedelic adornments, a line of work that they fabulously mastered and still master [given the "Present" evidence], while 'In Babelsberg' sees the band wandering robustly along a rockier territory. As a whole, CD 1 sounds equally typical and refreshed. The wholly instrumental CD 2, despite its stylistic connections with the CD 1 material, is another story. What happens in CD 2 is that the band opens a window of their intimate self to us listeners. and what we find is that VdGG, when stripped out of any kind of compositional structure and clear melodic frame, is basically an avant-garde jazz act. The improvisation revolving around less than half baked ideas and taking them to an indefinite place (as opposed to developing them around a given focus) shows that Hammill, Banton, Jackson and Evans are still capable of recreating that same old magic even in their meandering moments. All of us familiar with the jams compiled in the "Time vaults "album will find more of that here, only with a tighter sound production and a more proper management of sound effects. The most solid examples of organic deconstruction are contained in tracks 5, 8 & 9, although it's fair to say that weirdness and half-controlled chaos are the common goals to each and every one of these instrumental excursions. All in all, this album is a real for all hardcore VdGG-heads that have been hanging around for years waiting for their chance to hear something new from them, and, in general, all lovers of gutsy, tense, emotional prog; this is also a present from VdGG to themselves, and what better present could any band give to themselves than stay young and healthy 35 years after the release of their first album? My present for "Present" is an honest 4.5 star rating - no doubt about it in my mind, Van der Graaf Generator still rules.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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