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Peter Hammill Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night/Silent Corner And The Empty Stage etc. Review

Album. Released 2006.  

BBC Review

The uneasy balladeer, the spectral presence – Peter Hammill is at his early best on...

Daryl Easlea 2006

The uneasy balladeer, the spectral presence – Peter Hammill is at his early best on these four very different albums, presented again here in a loving remaster.

The Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night, his second album, is where Hammill's solo template was truly struck, creating a sound subtly different from Van Der Graaf Generator yet retaining all of their intensity, setting him out as a most singular of artists. "Slender Threads" is full of touching remorse, while "German Overalls" is on-the-road VDGG verite. Bonus track, "Rain 3AM", is one of Hammill's best ever.

The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage continues along this trajectory. Here we can thrill again to the baroque entertainment of "Forbidden Gardens", the great wall of sound that is "Modern" and the touching message of "Wilhelmina".

In Camera is an intense, knotty work that baffles just as it was about to soothe, shocks and diverts as it approaches anything linear. "Tapeworm, Again" and "The Comet, The Course, The Tail" are absolute highlights. The virtually unlistenable, yer actual musique concrete, "Magog (In Bromine Chambers)" is no doubt held dear by Wire-reading noise terrorists.

Nadir's Big Chance, Hammill's major dalliance with his old three-chord trick, shines like a beacon. Rikki Nadir, Hammill's bargain-bucket riposte to all the Ziggys, Zincs and Zowies, is still as vital and bitter as ever, and those seeking entry-level Hammill should come here. From the rush of "Birthday Special" to the pathos of "Shingle", this really is premium PH.

Splendidly packaged, with Hammill's frank and humorous recollections, it's great to have these vital records sounding fresh and clean again, complete with bonus material and everything.

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