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Peter Hammill - Peter Hammill/Gary Lucas: Other World CD (album) cover

PETER HAMMILL/GARY LUCAS: OTHER WORLD

Peter Hammill

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars Ok. I didn't really know what to expect. I have always loved Peter Hammill's band Van der Graaf Generator. But then I get to his solo albums and I seem to have a hard time with them. I had to force myself to listen to "In Camera" and "The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage" numerous times before I could actually relate to any of the music and say that I enjoyed them...which is funny because I fell in love with VdGG immediately. Listening to "Godbluff" and "Pawn Hearts" blew my mind, and I fell in love with their entire 1970s output.

That being said, I found "Other World" to be completely accessible upon the first listen. I realize that this is a collaboration with guitarist Gary Lucas, but it still bears the striking signature of Peter Hammill. The music is more ambient and languid than much of Peter Hammill's oeuvre, but in a way this is why I like it. It has the psychedelic feel of early Pink Floyd, but in my humble opinion it is more musical, better produced and more cohesive as an album than some of that great band's early work. It may be worth noting that there seems to be some Brian Eno influence here as well (a good thing in my opinion).

Despite the presence of only two musicians, the music is rich, lush and at times veers between pastoral and psychedelic. It is very hard for me to pick a favorite song, but I am leaning towards the seven minute long closing opus "Slippery Slope". It is an instrumental, and about midway through it, I had to stop what I was doing and walk across the room to look at my MP3 player to see what the song was called. I wanted to make a note to myself to play it again. To my dismay, it was the last song on an album that feels way too short. I rate it 4 stars for now. The rating could change as I live with the album for awhile, but it makes an excellent first impression. It is rare that a Peter Hammill album does that for me. Perhaps Gary Lucas deserves a little credit.

Report this review (#1126837)
Posted Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hypothetically, if I were asked to pigeonhole this album into some sort of genre or category, the closest I would be able to come would probably be something along the lines of twisted, psychedelic folk. Let me explain. This collaboration between Van der Graaf Generator frontman Peter Hammill and guitar maestro Gary Lucas, of Captain Beefheart fame, is--in a word--otherworldly. For every track here which could be classified as a straightforward, melodic "song" (and there are plenty), there's a spacey, instrumental soundscape to match.

Of the "normal" songs, the opening "Spinning Coins"--short although it might be--starts the album off strong. Considering his age, Peter Hammill's voice sounds to be holding up very well, and Gary Lucas, who I was not acquainted with prior to hearing this album, makes his presence felt from the first note with some simple but oh-so-effective guitar chords. It's very solid, as are nearly all of the traditional songs, if not particularly remarkable. "Of Kith and Kin," by contrast, stood out from the beginning and has only gotten more enjoyable with repeated listens. I love how Hammill's earnest vocal in the verses is juxtaposed with the song's reflective, melancholy bridge to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The instrumental backing here, a tasteful mixture of Lucas's strong acoustic guitar and Hammill's soundscapes, is simply perfect. "This is Showbiz," with its layers of vocals and excellent sense of rhythm, is another standout, as is the melodic, almost playful "Black Ice".

Unfortunately, Otherworld isn't without it's weak points, and a particularly unfortunate one comes in the form of "Cash" which, despite a strong start, quickly starts to sound contrived, somehow lacking enough ideas to sustain its paltry three minute running time. I've also found that, try as I might, I can't remember much of anything when it comes to the vocal part to "Two Views". I really dig Gary's eerie, echoey guitar part, though, so it can stay. On the whole, these songs are--

--never all that far from veering in the direction of the bizarre. Whether they come in the middle of a relatively normal track or not (there's a pretty awesome psychedelic freakout in the middle of "Black Ice"), the instrumental, soundscape type work is something which really sets this album apart. "Some Kind of Fracas," for example, despite a fairly normal start, quickly dissolves into an ugly, almost Frippian mass of sound... and it works. I wasn't a huge fan of these pieces when I first heard the album, but the more times I listen the more details I pick out, and the more I realize how unique each piece is from the others. I won't try to talk about them in too much detail (I don't think I could anyway), but I will say that when combined with the other songs, they give this album a powerfully strange atmosphere that makes the whole thing work. Check out "Built from Scratch" or "Slippery Slope" to see what I mean.

To close, I feel that it's worth mentioning just how much Gary Lucas adds to this album. If Hammill had performed these songs alone, my evaluation would still be positive, but Lucas's often understated guitar playing takes things to another level, especially when compared to Hammill's more recent work. There's an energy here which I thought some of those albums lacked, good as they often were. Although Otherworld isn't likely to blow your socks off, it's worth checking out if you're a fan of either Hammill or Lucas.

3.5 stars, rounded to 4 because I'm in a good mood.

**Originally published (by me) on rockandprogreviews.wordpress.com

Report this review (#1152904)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very interesting album, because it is not a normal Peter Hammill release. It really is a collaboration with lots of ambient passages. You will get your fill of Peter Hammill, but Gary Lucas is equally felt on this release. The title is fitting, because this release is experimental space rock in many ways and rewards a very patient listener. If you are looking for something different, but very familiar at the same time, this is a great choice. With the exception of And Close as This and A Black Box, this is his best album since the 70s.
Report this review (#1178347)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Impressive but...

Soon after that I had heard "The Silent corner and the empty stage" beacame I very curious about hearing the totally new record by htis romantic hero, Peter Hammill, the record "Other world" from 2014 which is done together with guitarist Gary Lucas.

On the cover we see and area of antoher planet and it feels like the theme of emptyness is present also here, but actually even more here. I was overwhelmed when I realized that Peter Hammill could still perform pure musical art just as that romantic stage poet he is. On "Other world", Hammill's thirty-eighth studio album it's just he and Gary Lucas, the guitarist who play. They do perform impressive things on these minutes. Lucas is a great guitarist who can capture every feeling and play both rough and sophisticated.

But, when I am impressed do I just rate this three? Well I think the record is too calmed down, too ambient and partially even too weird. I like experimental stuff and I know it's progressive but I want to hear more of the Hammill I am used to. I would like to recommend some beautiful songs though such as: " Of Kith & Kin" a quite acoustic song with the famous voice poet telling us the truth and "Cash"- rough and mighty , "This is Showbiz" - fast and furious, "Black Ice" an experimental beauty and "The Kid" which all deserve (8/10) from me. Some of the others are also good but I wouldn't recommend them.

This is definitely a record for fans of Peter Hammill but perhaps even more for fans of very experiemtal and/or calm ambient music. I look forward to hear all the other Hammill records!

Report this review (#1279201)
Posted Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Review Permalink

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