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Van der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (70) - 9/10
This record is perhaps better than H to He. The song material here is outstanding, the sound being as aggressive as on their two next records. "Darkness (11/11)", "White Hammer" and "After the Flood" are the best pieces here, with some outrageously heavy and uncompromising music. The unpolished sound of the band at this time was one of their major pros - however, the versions of the aforementioned tracks on the boxed set The Box are more energetic, and as a result, better. Still, at the time it was released, it must have been one of the very best records ever.

Van der Graaf Generator - H to He Who am the Only One (70) - 8.5/10
The atmosphere of Van der Graaf Generator (VDGG) is always depressive or aggressive. This is emphasised by the brilliant, but gloomy lyrics and the very emotional and absolutely marvellous vocals of Peter Hammill. Mix the chaos of Osanna's "Palepoli", the sinister crazyness of Il Balletto di Bronzo's "Ys", the quirks of King Crimson and quite a lot of Fish-era Marillion, and you should be quite close to VDGG. When it comes to H to He in particular: This must be one of the top three records from 1970! Organ is used quite a lot, as is saxophone, but the lead "instrument" is almost at all times the vocals. Hammill's way of using his voice reminds me quite a bit of Marillion's Fish, as does the lyrics and the overall atmosphere. Beside the vocals, the saxophone is the most dominating instrument. And what a sax player David Jackson is. The range of emotions that he manages to get out of the sax is no less than breathtaking. But the important point is that the band works amazingly well as a whole. Be aware, however, that the record starts out rather quietly, with the somewhat catchy melodies of "Killer", a track which ends refreshingly chaotically... "House with no Door" is musically a little disappointing, containing for the most part only piano and vocals. But the three last tracks show VDGG at their best. "The Emperor in his War Room", "Lost" and "The Pioneers over c." all contain stuff that should make fans of complex, powerful and inaccessible music drool. At least if they can take the desperately depressive and negative atmosphere.

Van der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts (71) - 10/10
Their most disharmonious, least accessible and in my opinion best record. Punches you in the face from beginning to end. Mellotron is used, and adds a new dimension to the music. An outrageously difficult record to get into.

Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff (75) - 7/10
VDGG broke up in 1971, and reunited for this record. Unfortunately, some of the complexity and manic-depressive improvisation is gone on this record; it sounds a little more polished than H to He... and (particularly) Pawn Hearts. Moreover, Peter Hammill just doesn't sound as inspired as on those two records. Okay, he screams just as much (if not more), but it fails to excite me. Still, this is a great album. Not essential, though.

Van der Graaf Generator - Still Life (76) - 8/10
All the tracks on this record are silent and melancholic, except the furious "La Rossa". Still Life seems a little less ambitious than Godbluff, but I like it more anyway.

Van der Graaf Generator - World Record (76) - 8/10
Late 1976, and VDGG are still an excellent band. The first three tracks; "When She Comes", "A Place to Survive" and "Masks", all contain the classic VDGG ingredients, but are perhaps a little uninspired. However, there are some delightful outbursts of Pawn Heart'ish wildness around. The highlight of the record is the 21-minute "Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)". This is excellent stuff. Interestingly, it starts out almost exactly like Le Orme's Contrappunti. It also contains several minutes of reggae rythms... With just a little more aggressiveness added, this track could have fit into the all-time classic Pawn Hearts. World Record is concluded by "Wondering", which - have a seat - has a positive and light-hearted (but complex and symphonic) sound. Moreover, this record is a lyrical turning-point for the band, as it contains some positive lyrics - namely in "A Place to Survive" and "Wondering". Refreshing.

Van der Graaf Generator/Jackson-Banton-Evans - Now and Then (released 91) - 4/10
This album contains eight short tracks, of which two were recorded in the period when VdGG were officially disbanded, 1973-74. The six other, which are credited to Jackson, Banton and Evans (that is, Van der Graaf Generator without Peter Hammill), were recorded in '84 and '85. The two tracks from the VdGG period do not exactly sound like excerpts from Pawn Hearts or Godbluff. They both have a light and playful atmosphere. But the musical complexity of one of them, "The Liquidator", is of VdGG quality! The other track from this period, "Tarzan", is more humouristic and simple. I guess that they had to make some music like this after the outrageous Pawn Hearts. None of the two tracks are part of VdGG's just released The Box. The Jackson-Banton-Evans tracks are not as exciting. The compositions aren't of Hammill class, but given the years they recorded this, it's really quite good: "The Main Slide" is very strange; dreamy, almost ambient, and sounds like something from Peter Hammill's solo album Loops and Reels. Other tracks are more in the blues or reggae vein, but not really that bad. I could do without some of the keyboard and drum machine sounds on some of the tracks. Fortunately, David Jackson's saxophone sounds just as it's supposed to. If you, like me, have everything by Van der Graaf Generator and want some more, then you've found a fair enough record to spend some money on. But don't expect it to be remotely as good as their other records.

Volo, Il - Il Volo (74) - 6/10
Il Volo consisted of former members of Formula 3, and the style is almost the same as on Formula 3's La Grande Casa: In general very pleasant and tranquil, and more song-oriented than most Italian prog bands. The band featured two keyboard players, and the clear, full sound of the keyboards makes it apparent that this was made in the mid-70's. Electric and acoustic guitars are used, but no instruments dominate, at least not for more than brief periods of time. And that is this the strength of this album - the band works well together. The vocals fit nicely in with the rest of the sound - they are sometimes almost whispered, and when it is needed, sung with a little more power. The atmosphere is dreamy and sort of "romantic" - the band name translates into "The Flight", which isn't such a bad description of their music. Some of it is a little bloodless, but definitely not all of it. Unfortunately, this record is quite commercially-sounding. Still, occasional outbursts of musical complexity can be heard, and make up the most memorable moments. If they had skipped the most commercial stuff, like the boring track "Sinfonia delle Scarpe da Tennis", I could have considered this record a good purchase.

Volo, Il - Essere o non Essere? (75) - 7/10
Ah, yes! Il Volo skipped the commercial bits from their self-titled debut for this record! Okay, they still have a quite bright and seemingly accessible sound. But the compositions are extremely subtle, with all kinds of almost unnoticeable details emerging all the time. There are also some "ethnic" moments - for example, bongo drums and some middle-eastern sounds are used on occasion. Moreover, the music is funky at times, but even more jazzy. String synthesizers are used a lot, creating a sensation that you are flying. In addition, it's all so relaxing, and still complex as hell (or Balletto di Bronzo) - a great combination. Almost completely instrumental, too, thus revealing the interplay between the different instruments in all its glory. An incredibly well-composed album, not far away from Chick Corea's Return to Forever record.