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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1998 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Another masterpiece of VDGG, not so mighty as the amazing Pawn Hearts but much better than Still Life and H to He, Godbluff manages to show again the darkness contained within this band's brilliant music and lyrics in perfect shape, courtesy of the also brilliant Peter Hammill, one of the best writers and singers of all times.

The cover says it all: this is dark, very dark stuff. The first track is a gentle intro to the crazy world showed on the following three numbers. Hammill with this not usual quiet voice that will soon range into a growl full with angst on "Arrow" opens the album together with some soft flutes by David Jackson - who is perhaps making his best performance here on both instruments (sax and flute) played by him. The overall mood of the song is a melancholic one, though. The singing sounds like a cry for help after Hammill stops whispering, but this apparent sadness becomes a sudden rage on the second song, "Scorched Earth". This track is the most upbeat one here, but soon it reaches a very dark and scary moment where Hammill begins talking in a low tone and the instrumentation gets quieter...soon getting louder and louder together with the voice bringing the upbeat section back with some more great sax work. The keyboards lead this song perfectly, and after the chaotic section we notice that Hammill starts growling...yes, i feel that in this album's first three songs we have quite a gradual development of the tone of Hammill's voice. On the first song, it is quiet, leading to some cries and his normal tone. At the second it starts normal and goes getting chaotic reaching full power on "Arrow", where the growling literally increases at each line sung. It is almost as if he was "transforming" himself during those minutes, from his most gentle side until his most angry full with angst one at the end of the third track. Sounds like an internal monster borning from the depths of your mind, reaching full power at the crying rage of the line "how long the time seems, how dark the shadow, how straight the eagle flies, how straight towards its arrow / how long the night is, why is this passage so narrow? how strange my body feels impaled upon this arrow". This song, "Arrow", is my favorite from the album, since it affects me a lot emotionally. At the ending words from the song's lyrics above quoted, i feel very moved inside - those lasting words sound like someone is feeling really disturbed looking for her/his freedom from the darkness that surround her/him. It starts with a great drum and sax jam, leading to the actual song with a rare appearance of the guitar. The song gets progressively faster and Hammill's voice follows the rhythm. A very chaotic jazzy number for sure, and the most emotional one from this album. And then we have the closing track, easily the weakest one from this superb group of four brilliant songs. But it doesn't let us down. If you are used to VDGG's surprises through songs, you won't mind the somewhat mexican section found here after some more chaotic keyboard work. It is the less accessible from the album, and even though it doesn't close it memorally like the ending of "Plague" on Pawn Hearts, it still deserves its merit due to its constant variation of moods making it perhaps the most prog of all acts here.

Overall this is an excellent album that is very essential together with Pawn Hearts in any prog collection. In my opinion both form an amazing pair like Selling England and Foxtrot do for GENESIS and WYWH and DSOTM form for the FLOYD. Get this album as soon as you can, there's a remastered version released this year containing two extra songs. Buy it and enjoy Peter Hammill's world!

Eclipse | 5/5 |


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