Friday, 5 October 2012

Album review: PETER HAMMILL - Consequences

Highlights: Eat My Words, Bite My Tongue, That Wasn’t What I Said, Constantly Overhead, New Pen-Pal, Close To Me

While I remain a firm Van Der Graaf Generator agnostic, Peter Hammill’s solo career has always seemed strangely appealing to me. Particularly his inexplicable glam-punk-theatre-whatever albums like Nadir’s Big Chance and The Future Now. Consequences may not offer that much bewildering, idiosyncratic brilliance, but it’s still an effective late-period album from a man who has retained it all: style, edge, vision.

Also, it certainly helps that the record’s first side is flawless. “Eat My Words, Bite My Tongue” starts like your typical Pеter Hammill number, cold, difficult and pretentious, but then the second part kicks in – and suddenly there’s a great groove, there’s an (almost!) articulate melody. And one song after another, one gruesome or pretty guitar line after another, right up to the chilling piano ballad “Closer To Me”, it all works, in a most scary, beautiful, mesmerizing way.

Sadly, the second side is more about artsiness than substance, and, some spontaneous flashes of greatness aside (come to think of it, Hammill’s greatest 70’s albums consisted of nothing but spontaneous flashes of greatness), it is somewhat meandering and not particularly engaging. You’d really have to be a die-hard admirer to get your teeth into such lengthy, abstract tracks like “All The Tiredness” or “Perfect Pose”. The style is there, granted, but only style.

Overall, though, I feel impressed. For all its second-half flaws, Consequences is prime Peter Hammill stuff, bizarre, grandiose and totally convincing.


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