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Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1971 ratings

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5 stars Van der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts

The masterpiece that wasn't very likable...

This is a record that deserved it's place in my island selection (the essential of the essentials). For most of us it extremely hard to get into; I liked it after my fifth spin, though my brother loved it instantly. This album is very progressive, but even more that that - it's psychedelic! It's dark, it's without concessions, it's fatalistic. It's Peter Hammil going to the extreme.

The compositions are influenced by dissonant psychedelica, but also some freejazz influences can be spotted. Under the layer of darkness some beautiful melodies do appear; the songbasis of Man-Erg is very subtle and a lot of melodies on the long epic A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers are very emotionally driven. Eventually even these sublte moments are confronted with the heavy approach on this album. In the warm pianomelodie Man-Erg the first lyrics are "The Killer lives inside me"... The great majestic refrein in the end is being destorted completely with dissonant wind and key notes. All in order to make one of the most honest confessions sound real, the second couplet starts with "Angels live inside me", Peter Hammil is referring to his two sides, being more honest on this record that most people would be when sitting in the chair at the shrink.

The epical Lighthouse Keepers is a sum of different melodies that never come back, in a way this makes it a different epic from all the other. Most of the time part come back at the end with epics. VdGG gave every part of the song it's own themes and melodies, but I wouldn't be able to know wich subtitle refers to which part. It's just one very big song with atmospheric parts, vocal parts, psychomusic parts and majestic parts. It's a journey to through top-notch psychedelic music that is to progressive for most of us.

Conclusion. One of my favourite albums, extremely inspired, extremely well played and recorded and very 'real'. I know a lot of symphyproggers rather would commit suicide then listen to this album, but for the Progressive music listeners with the big P this is an pioneer album. This is how far prog came in fourthy years on this field. The fact that people can still like this dark album is almost as nice as how good it actually is, though quite unlikable.

Five stars, but it would have been six if possible.

* Extra

I recently bought the new vinyl 2lp print with bonustracks and I would like add some words for those who are considering to buy this new print (or a cd with these tracks). After all, the album was once intended to become a double album. 'Theme One' never sounded this clear and it really enhances this instrumental track (written by their producer for a commercial) a lot. Mainly the rhythmical section shines. There's a small difference with the original version, it seems to me there's less distorted organ around. The psychedelic track 'W' is a good song with atmospheric darkness and great vocals by Hammill. The recording quality is perfect. On the second side of my bonus vinyl 'Angle of Incident's and 'Diminutions' VdGG impress with heavy psychedelic soundscapes that remind me of Tangerine Dream's Zeit album. Un-logical sounds and drones that won't do a thing for some of us, but I happen to like these atmospheric interpretations (as I tend to call them). The short be-bop track 'Ponker's Theme' is unimpressive, the band doesn't succeed in creating a good jazz environment and the production sounds poor. At first I didn't though I'd need a second vinyl with bonustracks, but I can now look back on an even more successful purchase. I already really liked the warm and thick sound of my new 180g pressing.

friso | 5/5 |


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