Van Der Graaf Generator -
A Grounding In Numbers

(CD 2011, 48:49, Esoteric Records EVDGCD1001)

The tracks:
  1- Your Time Starts Now
  2- Mathematics
  3- Highly Strung
  4- Red Baron
  5- Bunsho
  6- Snake Oil
  7- Plink
  8- Embarrassing Kid
  9- Medusa
10- Mr Sands
11- Smoke
12- 5533
13- All Over The Place

Van Der Graaf Generator Website        Esoteric Recordings

Slowly, o so slowly I begin to appreciate A Grounding In Numbers, the new album of Van Der Graaf Generator. Granted, no record of these pioneers of the progressive rock genre is easy, but this time they make it particularly hard on the fans. This must be because most of the songs are rather tranquil and, as such, resemble Peter Hammill's solo songs a lot, and let's be fair, these past few years Hammill's solo albums didn't belong to his best.

Opening track Your Time Starts Now is a prime example: the listener is barely saved from getting into a deep slumber by the heavy organ playing of Hugh Banton. It's a shame to write this, but since VDGG reconvened, they haven't written many memorable songs in my opinion, even more so in comparison with the music from their glory days. A Grounding In Numbers unfortunately doesn't change this, even the up-tempo songs don't have a real good hook that sticks in the memory. As a consequence you have to listen to the album really hard and carefully and quite a few times before you can appreciate this new record. The track Snake Oil illustrates this nicely: threatening sounds, a composition that reminds me of an early VDGG-song, sharp lyrics, a rhythm that's uneasy to the ears, and drummer Guy Evans who finally comes to the front of the music. But all in all I'm left with a slightly disappointed feeling.

** André de Waal (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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