Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Van der Graaf Generator - Still Life


The second album from VDGG's second era is even more subdued than the first. Hell, near the end of the title track, things get so quiet that you can actually make out the tape hiss, something that never would've been possible in the days of Pawn Hearts. Unfortunately, the relative simplicity frequently acts as a detriment. I especially disliked how David Jackson was just buried in the mix much of the time.
It's not all stripped down, however; "La Rossa" and "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" are just as over-the-top as anything the band ever recorded, but they're only half the album. However, many of the more subdued moments just aren't as engaging. My favorite song was "Childlike Faith," with its anthemic themes and wall-of-sound production that was absent on most of the rest of the album.
One gets the impression that Hammill intended some of the songs for a solo album, as they don't feel quite like VDGG songs. However, Still Life still isn't a bad album by any means.

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