Friday, April 10, 2009

Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff

9/10

I have to say that I'm glad that this reunion album didn't just consist of Peter Hammill just surrounding himself with a bunch of schlubs and using the VDGG name. In fact, this lineup is exactly the same as the last album! But Hammill's solo work clearly tempered him a bit, as this album's more restrained than the last few. Sure, the songs are all over seven minutes, and Hammill just can't resist throwing in a few Broadway-esque vocal flourishes into the mix, but there's barely any cacophonous sax playing, and the instrumental sections are at least somewhat melodic (I greatly enjoyed the opening of "The Sleepwalkers," which is complex yet catchy at the same time). I also like the use of keyboard bass pedals on "Arrow" (the band had been without a bassist since the recording of H to He, and organist Hugh Banton also played both the pedals and bass guitar).
Unfortunately, the production's not great, and Hammill's lyrics are very hard to understand at times as a result. It's still relatively accessible for a VDGG record, though, and a good place to start.
Oh, and one more note- my version has the band performing two live versions of Peter Hammill solo songs at the end, and they SUCK! Well, the songs themselves are okay, and the performances aren't terrible, but the fidelity's so bad that it's just an iota more listenable than Metal Machine Music. Lame!

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