sexta-feira, 19 de junho de 2015
Van der Graaf Generator - Classical Prog Rock
Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriters Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records. They did not experience much commercial success in the UK, but became popular in Italy during the 1970s. In 2005 the band reformed, and continue to perform as of 2015. The band formed at Manchester University, but settled in London where they signed with Charisma. They went through a number of incarnations in their early years, including a brief split in 1969. When they reformed, they found minor commercial success with The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, and after the follow-up album, H to He, Who Am the Only One, stabilised around a line-up of Hammill, organist Hugh Banton, saxophonist David Jackson, and drummer Guy Evans. The quartet subsequently achieved significant success in Italy with the release of Pawn Hearts in 1971.
After several exhausting tours of Italy, the band split in 1972. They reformed in 1975, releasing Godbluff and frequently touring Italy again, before a major line-up change and a slight rename to Van der Graaf. The band split in 1978. After many years apart, the band finally united at a gig at the Royal Festival Hall and a short tour in 2005. Since then, the band has continued as a trio of Hammill, Banton, and Evans, who record and tour regularly in between Hammill's concurrent solo career. Their most recent album, ALT, was released in June 2012. The group's albums have tended to be both lyrically and musically darker in atmosphere than many of their prog-rock peers (a trait they shared with King Crimson, whose guitarist Robert Fripp guested on two of their albums), and guitar solos were the exception rather than the rule, preferring to use Banton's classically influenced organ, and, until his departure, Jackson's multiple saxophones. While Hammill is the primary songwriter for the band, and its members have contributed to his solo albums, he is keen to stress that the band collectively arranges all its material. Hammill's lyrics frequently covered themes of mortality, due to his love of science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, along with his self-confessed warped and obsessive nature. His voice has been a distinctive component of the band throughout its career. It has been described as "a male Nico" and would later on be cited as an influence by Goth bands in the 1980s. Though the group have generally been commercially unsuccessful outside of early 1970s Italy, they have inspired several musicians, including John Lydon and Julian Cope.
Due to the time-frame of the original band's career, Van der Graaf Generator have been frequently referred to as a progressive rock band. Writing in Record Collector, Toby Manning said the music was "philosophical, even intellectual, complex .. at times, terrifying". While the music on The Aerosol Grey Machine has a more pastoral, hippie feel, with prominent use of Hammill's acoustic guitar, later work featured more complex instrumentation and arrangements. Hammill thinks the style of the band evolved due to the culture of music in the late 1960s, stating "the whole of music was laid out in front of you ... it was the blues in wonky time signatures." Both Hammill and Banton have stated that Jimi Hendrix was an influence on the band's sound, with Hammill remarking that "there'd been distortion before, but there hadn't been that real out-there attitude to sound in itself". The group's experimental style has also been compared to Krautrock bands such as Can. Because of their musical influences and line-up, the band tended to play darker musical themes than other progressive bands, with the possible exception of King Crimson. However, Hammill has stated that the group is still fun to work with, stating "as far as we're concerned, it's serious fun, but fun nonetheless."
Hammill's lyrics frequently covered themes of mortality, due to his love of science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, along with his self-confessed warped and obsessive nature. His voice has been a distinctive component of the band throughout its career. It has been described as "a male Nico" and would later on be cited as an influence by Goth bands in the 1980s. Unlike several other notable prog rock keyboardists, such as Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson, Banton considers himself primarily an organist, due to his background in classical and church music, and only ever used that instrument on stage, albeit heavily modified with customised electronics and devices. Hammill said that "Hugh is one of the most instinctive, baffling, and brilliant people I've known and his intuitive hold on the worlds of music and electronics has always astonished me." Banton used clonewheel organs during the 2005 reformation, but since 2009 he has used the Hammond XK-3c, and thinks Hammond have "cracked that sound at long last". Although Hammill has written the vast majority of the songs in the band's catalogue, and all of the lyrics, he is keen to stress that the arrangements of the music comes from all the group's members. In 1976, being interviewed for the Melody Maker, he said that "VDGG is a band, a real band ... of course [it] is something special, it releases in individual terms parts of us that wouldn't be aired otherwise. In 2013, he reiterated, "Some people don't think Van der Graaf is a democracy, but believe me, it's entirely democratic, with everyone having very vocal and forceful opinions."
The band have been compared with Genesis due to being label-mates at Charisma Records, sharing management with Tony Stratton-Smith and performing on the same bill on the "Six Bob Tour". Hammill and Banton both reject this comparison, with Hammill noting that Genesis were far more driven to be commercially successful, whereas he prefers to release music without interference from record companies. In particular, he has mentioned that while he himself continues to release albums on a regular basis in the 21st century, Peter Gabriel's "average output has been about 0.2 albums a year". Though the group have generally been commercially unsuccessful outside of early 1970s Italy, they have inspired several notable musicians, including Rush, John Lydon, Marc Almond, Graham Coxon, Mark E. Smith, John Frusciante, Bruce Dickinson and Julian Cope. Dickinson, who has been a fan of the band since he saw them at Oundle School aged 13, said that Hammill was one of his childhood heroes. Coxon is particularly fond of "House With No Door" from H to He, saying the track is "extremely beautiful, with Jackson's truly lovely sax-and-flute instrumental section."Almond recalled hearing "Killer" for the first time saying, "I'd never heard anything like it before. It wasn't just Peter's snarling operatic vocal, it was the mix of instruments ... I became an instant fan." Although generally categorised as a progressive rock group, Cope is keen to distance the band from that movement, stating "Their music was like some Brechtian bar band – the opposite of prog rock, really". Mentioning their reputation as something of an acquired taste, Lydon said, "There's a few Van Der Graaf things I like, but I'm not going to recommend anything to anyone. It might not be for them. Music doesn't come with a set of guidelines." Marillion singer Fish thought highly of Hammill, and invited him to be the support on the band's early tours.
The album was originally intended as a solo album by the band's lead singer and main songwriter, Peter Hammill. When the band signed with Charisma Records, a deal was worked out whereby The Aerosol Grey Machine would be released under the Van der Graaf Generator name, in return for Mercury Records releasing Hammill from his earlier contract with it.
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, released in 1977, is the eighth album by British progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. It was their last studio album before their 2005 reunion. The album features a more energetic, new wave sound than its three immediate predecessors, anticipating singer and songwriter Peter Hammill's late '70s solo work. For this album, bassist Nic Potter returned to the band, having left in 1970, and violinist Graham Smith (String Driven Thing), also joined the line-up, in place of the two members who had departed in the aftermath of their previous album, World Record: organist Hugh Banton and saxophonist/flautist David Jackson. This considerably modified the band's sound. Officially, the band's name was shortened to just "Van der Graaf" for this album and the live album Vital, that followed, but contemporaneous Charisma Records promotional materials used both the full and shortened name.