Van Der Graaf Generator – Music News

Esoteric (label)

September 09, 2022 (published)

1 p.m.

The Van Der Graaf Generator story is a long one with many stops and restarts along the way, but still revolving around the central characters of Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton and David Jackson until 2005 when Jackson left the group permanently, the others continuing as a trio.

This box set covers their releases from 2005 (with Jackson) to 2016 as well as a stack of live material – 14 discs in all, including a DVD of the show “Live at the Paradiso”. It also includes a 96-page booklet with interview photos and lyrics.

By now, anyone familiar with VDGG will know its dark, aggressive tone, the intricate patterns, the interplay between instruments, and the almost chaotic notation.
The way their “songs” develop is, and always has been, as much an intuitive collaboration as a structure, with all four (or three) members taking equal responsibility. No individual stars, a whole gang of thieves.
The work they did after their reformation in 2005, after a 27-year hiatus, is unmistakably Van Der Graaf Generator. The sound is similar to their original versions, but there is an added maturity as well as, in Peter Hammill’s case, a sense of fragility. The power is still there as well as the complexity and completely moving presentation of their music. Unlike many of their ‘progressive’ cohort, VDGG always plays from the heart and there is a great feeling that they love to play.
The band’s sound after Jackson’s departure is clearly different, his horn was a big part of VDGG’s sound, but the quality is no less and sometimes the three-piece format actually improves the sound, adding space and depth. The albums released since 2005 are probably as good as anything they’ve ever done.

The sheer volume of this collection suggests that it won’t be listened to in one big binge, and neither should it. Everything the band puts into their music deserves special attention.

Reviewing each album individually will exhaust the reader as well as the author, suffice it to say that this is one of the most exhilarating and exhausting collections and any ardent fan of the band will find it essential.