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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover

PRESENT

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 490 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

fogwalker
4 stars I listened to this album with more than a little trepidation. I was half-expecting to be disappointed.

I needn't have worried. From the very start, a strummed chord, a keyboard flourish, a drum roll and a parp on the sax - the intro to Every Bloody Emperor says : We're back!

The opening track is for me already a classic VDGG track - right up there with La Rossa and Sleepwalkers. Rarely have VDGG wandered into political territory, but here Hammill invective an spin-based politics shows his lyric writing at his best. Musically, the song progresses from an intimate Hammill solo track into a full blown VDGG arrangement - bloody marvellous!

Sadly for me, the rest of the album fails to live up to the opening track . "Booleas Panic", while being an interesting instrumental in the "Now and Then" mould, lacks the edge that PH's vocal would bring. The menacing "Nutter Alert" is probably my second favourite track. I'm not over keen on "Abandon Ship" - it pushed the boat out (geddit??) in an experimental direction just a little to far from me. I like "Babelsburg" a lot - I think it shows that Hammill's voice, while having matured, still has the power to move. "On the beach is a pleasant floating ditty, (which always remind me of "Ophelia" from PH's "Sitting Targets").

All impro is bound to be a bit of a curate's egg and Disc 2 is no exception. I have t say I don't listen to it nearly as much as disc 1, but I can still derive a lot of pleasure from it.

All in all, I liked the album - it was still distinctively VDGG, but with a thoroughly modern twist. A reunion after such a long gap was always going to be a risky undertaking, and hats off to the guys for pulling it off!

fogwalker | 4/5 |

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