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RE-DISS-COVERY: VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR – A GROUNDING IN NUMBERS (2010)

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

It’s interesting to return to something after a considerable amount of time and this record sounds better to me than when I first heard it, I think. Firstly, ‘Your Time Has Come’ has become one of my all-time VDGG favourites: a wonderfully articulate and perceptive song with Peter Hammill in fine vocal form. Then there are a couple of pieces reflecting Peter’s interest in numerology: ‘Mathematics’ and ‘5533’: “You’d better believe it,” intones the singer passionately, and I urge the reader to try it out for themselves – you might be surprised what you discover!

‘Bunshō’ (Sentence) is also very revealing: how your best work can be ignored while “prolix, puff and sad cliché” connects. ‘Snake Oil’ takes us back to early vintage VDGG: the only thing that is missing is David Jackson – how his sax work would have embellished this song and push it on towards ten minutes perhaps. ‘Mr Sands’ is another classic that could have gone on longer – I remember seeing the band around the time and this being part of the repertoire along with ‘Your Time Starts Now’. These and ‘Bunshō’ can all be heard live at Metropolis Studios, a 2 CD set from 2012. High Banton lets loose on harpsichord on ‘All Over the Place’, while Guy Evans’ inventive drumming and percussion has its moment in the spotlight on the short instrumental pieces that punctuate the album.

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