Van der Graaf - H to He, Who Am the Only One(1970)(Remaster Edit 2005)
Remastered album includes the bonus tracks 'Squid/Octopus' (live) & 'The Emperor In His War-room' (early take). EMI. 2005.
I went out and bought all of the EMI remastered albums and they are simply superb. The sound quality of H to He Who am the Only One has been vastly improved upon and the liner notes are wonderfully detailed and include various photos of the band scattered throughout. In addition to the original tracks, the electrifying and thunderous 15'24" Squid1/Squid 2/Octopus was added on along with the first version of The Emperor in his War Room. I should note that EMI did not use copy-control technology on the remastered albums so playback problems should not plague listeners.
This is the bleakest, most gothic prog rock I have ever heard. Instrumentation is sparse, with great drumming from Guy Evans (I can really hear the subtleties of his playing on the cleaned up recording), solid bass playing from Nic Potter, twisted Hammond organ work from keyboardist Hugh Banton, angular and aggressive sax playing from David Jackson (he would play two saxes at the same time - in fact Jackson, not to mention Colosseum sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith borrowed this technique from jazzer Rahsaan Roland Kirk) and a tiny bit of aggressive guitar work from guest Robert Fripp on "The Emperor in his War Room". Although synthesizers are largely absent, Hugh Banton is in fact credited with using an oscillator - which is a crude synthesizer (wave form generator actually). The most distinctive aspects of the music are Peter Hammill's anguished lyrics and his vocal delivery, which ranges from a tortured, heavy metal rasp to a smooth, high-pitched falsetto. While some folks find his vocals overwrought and excessively dramatic (this reaches a peak on "Lost"), it really makes this music work. Pieces are in the 6'00-12'25 range, with the heaviest track being the introductory "Killer". Although describing the music in terms of tortured, harsh, and anguished must conjure up sounds of a bandsaw ripping through galvanized steel, the music is not entirely abrasive. "House with No Door" is a very quiet and sad piece, and "The Emperor in his War Room", "Lost", and "Pioneers over c" all feature haunting and reflective sections in amongst the chaos. Though "H to He: Who am the Only One" is a good starting point, other excellent recordings by Van der Graaf Generator include "The Least we can do is Wave to Each Other (1970); Pawn Hearts (1971); Godbluff (1975) and Still Life (1976). Of these recordings, Pawn Hearts is their acclaimed best yet makes for extremely difficult listening...J. J. Park
01. Killer 8.22
02. House with No Door 6.30
03. Emperor in His War-Room: The Emperor/The Room 8.18
04. Lost: The Dance in Sand & Sea/The Dance in the Frost 11.13
05. Pioneers Over Csquid/Octopus 12.15
06. Squid/Octopus [Previously Unreleased] 15.23
07. Emperor in His War-Room [Early Take, Previously Unreleased] 8.50