Esoteric Antennae (label)
18 February 2014 (released)
18 February 2014
When I hear the words ‘Peter Hammill’ I immediately think of THAT voice and words that tell you what you’re feeling in ways you never would have thought of. I hear the sound of Van Der Graaf Generator in my mind but I also hear the angst and the anger of the man at his best.
I cued this CD and immediately felt that Hammill had added something unexpected to his sound – working with Gary Lucas has made something remarkable and takes the music in a new and very disquieting (in a good way) direction.
The two are credited with acoustic and electric guitars, found sounds and with Hammill producing the vocals and Lucas the effects. Just the two of them and no-one else needed in any way.
Opening with ‘Spinning Coins’ it has a wistful singer/songwritery intro until the voice brings you into Hammill-world, dark and strong and with just a little quaver as he holds notes. A little synth creating the soundscape as he sings of the randomness of a love affair but then a dark and heavy guitar line with an over-amplified acoustic behind it introduces ‘Some Kind Of Fracas’ and the words make the shock of the unexpected war that you are no part of as clear as day – the battle of the instruments leaving you hiding under the desk waiting for the all clear.
There are other ‘soft’ songs – ‘Of Kith & Kin’ or ‘The Kid’ – but even there the subject matter is strong and even on songs like ‘Cash’ the words are as important as the music but the music is brilliant and complex. These are two artists who both bring something to the party but whose combination is truly unique and individual – no-one else sounds like this.
Rare for me to say that there is no standout track but really, they all are. Everything about this album is intense and draws your full attention but rewards you with an experience in sound that is truly rare. There probably isn’t an ‘easy’ moment but there also isn’t a moment you wouldn’t want to hear again.
Utterly, utterly magnificent.