Reviewing the current incarnation of Van Der Graaf Generator is problematic. As with any band that’s been around a very long time and have different periods, it’s hard not to compare the latest album “Do Not Disturb” with the classics from the early 70s. But I’ve decided to try to make a distinction, or at least try to do that. It seems a bit more fair.
VDGG has been a trio since 2006, a year after their second reunion. Without David Jackson, they are definitely a different animal. Hugh Banton, Guy Evans and Peter Hammill are very much VDGG as they have proven since Jackson left, but I think “Do Not Disturb” is the first time lately that I’ve noticed the hole.
The music on “Do Not Disturb” is not as dense and the arrangements are more sparse. But in addition the songs are all a bit shorter (not obscenely) but there are no epics to be found. Often, more happens in a smaller space. Sometimes this works like on “Alfa Berlina” and “Room 1210.” Both tracks have their share of twists and turns but each have very memorable choruses.
But sometimes it doesn’t quite work for me. “Aloft” and “Brought to Book” never quite grab me. While “Forever Falling” has moments that I like and others that do nothing for me, all in the same song. The brief “Shikata Ga Nai” passes without much notice. “Go” is a solid finish to the album and you have to wonder if it’s the last song from VDGG.
“Do Not Disturb” sounds almost live in the studio which in many ways is very compelling. But I am not as drawn to these songs on here as I am to tracks from “Trisector” or “A Grounding in Numbers.” This is not as dangerous as VDGG used to be and that’s fine. They are older, wiser and have a different view on what they want. All in all, “Do Not Disturb” is another interesting album from one of the most interesting bands in prog history.
2. Alfa Berlina
3. Room 1210
4. Forever Falling
5. Shikata Ga Nai
6. (Oh No! I must have said) Yes
7. Brought to Book
8. Almost the Words
Label: Esoteric Recordings