a overview of the music from the last thirty-odd years of this
century, Van Der Graaf Generator should simply not be overlooked.
VDGG is one of those bands fans do not speak constantly
about, unlike, when the biggies are listed, Yes, Pink
Floyd, and Genesis. However, the references to the
ingredients that comprise VDGG can be found in a lot of
the DPRP ProgHistory, I picked VDGG's 1970 album H To
He Who Am The Only One. I could have picked almost any other
album from between 1969 and 1975, but we needed still a title
for 1970. I don't mind, I like talking about all of their albums.
take a look at some of those ingredients. First of all, there's
the complex side of VDGG. The music was mostly written
by the genius of Peter Hammill, who as a unique way of composing
without losing touch of what is real, feeling, emotion. The complexity
is found in the music of, for example, Yes as well. But
where the latter fill every gap of silence to impress, VDGG
know the emotion lies between the notes.
to be missed is Peter Hammill's voice. He sings like he plays
- from the heart. The strong poetical lyrics are not seldomly
written on melody lines other lyricists would find it very hard
to sing any words on. And it still sounds as it can be done no
other way. Whether he is screaming or singing on the top of his
voice, it fits the music, and even if you're not listening to
the lyrics, it's all part of the great emotional expressions of
a wonderful band.
important for the sound is what distinguish VDGG from a
lot of other prog bands: the saxophone. It's used for a foundation
on which the rest of the composition is built together with the
organ, but also for solo melodies, and, as in the first song Killer,
a freaky highlight. This song contains a hypnotising melody of
keyboards (organ) and saxophone that make you float with the music,
being soaked into it. It portrays the haunting atmosphere this
band is able to create with their music.
can do differently, as is shown in the second track, House
With No Door. A slower piece with blues influences, but the
easiness of the piano does not hide the sensitive agression that
marks the voice, that can show even in the quietest moments. The
Emperor In His War Room musically is somewhere between the
first two tracks, alternating quiet, almost laid back verses (with
flute), with menacing verses that are heavy, but not fast. It
is the fear and agression that speaks.
Over C, besides a guest appearane of Fripp on guitar, also
contains those hypnotizing sax and keyboard lines. The song is
over twelve minutes, so that phrase does not describe the whole
thing. As with almost any VDGG composition, verses can
be long, but the musical bits are never repetitive in a the way
of a song and chrorus structure.
album was released too early for prog cliches, but it still is
as unique as it was then! There's so many parts of VDGG's
music that have set the benchmarks for the bands to come. Every,
and I mean every record collection should at least contain
two VDGG albums. If only never to forget what progressive
music with a great voice sounds like without the pressure of forced
Written by Jerry van Kooten