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Peter Hammill: None of the Above
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Dieses Album ist schwer in Musikrichtungen einzuordnen. Am ehesten würde man dem Inhalt gerecht mit „Acht Stücke eines zeitgenössischen Musikers”. Eine Live-Aufführung würde man zweifelsohne einen Liederabend nennen können, an dem man sich in ruhiger Atmosphäre auf die Stimmung und die Texte der Lieder konzentriert.

„None of the Above” gehört zu einer Serie von drei Alben, die Peter Hammill um die Jahrtausendwende aufnahm. „None of the Above” (2000) ist zugänglicher als sein Vorläufer „This” (1998) und sein Nachfolger „What, now?” (2001). Allen drei Alben fehlt aber das mitreißende von „X my Heart” (1996) oder „Everyone you hold” (1997). Vielleicht war Peter Hammill so vertieft in das Remastering der Van der Graaf Generator Werkschau „The Box” (2000), daß nicht seine kompletten musikalischen Fähigkeiten in seine Solo-Produktionen eingingen?

Dennoch enthält dieses Album einige interessante Stücke. Die ersten sieben Aufnahmen drehen sich alle um dasselbe Thema. Ein Mensch erreicht das Ende einer Lebensphase – in sehr unterschiedlicher Weise. Und das achte Stück („Astart”) teilt mit: jedes Ende kann ein neuer Anfang sein. Die Stimmung dieses Albums ist ziemlich traurig und nachdenklich - passend zur Thematik. In einer ruhigen Stunde kann man sich mit Gewinn darauf einlassen.

Die Instrumentierung ist harmonisch und solide ausgearbeitet. Gitarren (mehr in einer Art „Lautmalerei” oder „colour-wash”, wie Peter Hammill sagt), Keyboards sowie teilweise Streicher und Chorgesang dominieren die Arrangements.

Am bewegendsten finde ich das Lied „Naming the rose”. Es handelt von einem Gärtner, der seine letzte Züchtung - eine wunderschöne Damaszener Rose - nach seiner Frau benennt, die am selben Tag stirbt, als sich die beste Blüte öffnet. Der Züchter düngt die Samen der neuen Varietät mit der Asche seiner Frau. So lebt das Paar, das keine Kinder hatte, in der neuen Rose weiter. Kein Kitsch. Peters Gesang ist anrührend, seine Stimme klingt gleichermaßen sanft wie zerbrechlich, und das Stück ist sehr zurückhaltend instrumentiert. Mehr noch: Peter beweist, daß er das Vokabular des Rosenzüchters beherrscht. Einige der von ihm erwähnten Sorten wachsen in meinem Garten!

Paul Rideout hat einmal mehr ein schönes und kongeniales Booklet geschaffen. Jede Doppelseite zeigt eine Treppe oder Leiter, die ins Nichts führt oder an einem zugemauerten Eingang endet oder auf einem leeren Gang, auf dem schwarze Müllsäcke herumstehen. Doch die letzte Doppelseite für die Aufnahme "Astart" bevölkern geschäftige Leute, die auf einer Rolltreppe zu einem Einkauf unterwegs sind.

Essentiell für jede Peter Hammill Sammlung.

Peter Eisenburger, 15. April 2006.
 

English version A

This is no „progressive” and no „pop” music. You would come close to a description if you called it "Eight songs by a contemporary artist". A live performance would be called a "Liederabend" here in Germany.

„None of the Above” belongs to a set of three albums Peter Hammill recorded around the millenium „None of the Above” (2000) is more accessible than its predecessor „This” (1998) and its successor „What, now?” (2001), but not as thrilling as „X my Heart” (1996) or „Everyone you hold” (1997). Maybe Peter Hammill was so involved in the sessions of remastering the VDGG songs for „The Box” (2000) that at the time not all of his musical capabilites were flowing into his solo productions?

Still this album contains interesting songs. The first seven ones all have the same topic. A human being comes to an end of a phase in his life - in very different circumstances. And the eighth song („Astart”) says: every end can be a new start. The mood of the album is rather sad and calm - suiting the theme. You might here it in a quiet hour.

Instrumentation is harmonic and well worked out–dominated by guitars (more as a „colour-wash” here as PH said), keyboards and in some cases strings and choir. With minor contributions of fellow musicians all instruments are played by PH.

Personally I find the most touching of the songs „Naming the rose”. It is about a gardener who names his last creation - a beautiful damask rose - after his wife which died on the very day the best blossom opened. The rose breeder fertilizes the seeds of the variety with the ashes of his wife. So the couple that had no children both lived on in the new rose. No „kitsch”, Peter’s vocals are very touching with a sweet and fragile sounding voice, very carefully instrumented - and Peter proves that he even knows the vocabulary of rose gardening. Some of the varieties he mentions grow in my garden!

Paul Rideout has once again designed a beautiful congenial booklet. Each double page shows a washed-out photo presenting a stair or ladder ending into nowhere or against a bricked entrance or upon an empty floor with black garbage bags staying around. Only the last double page for the song "Astart" shows busy people on an elevator rolling into some kind of shop scene.

An essential addition to any PH collection.

Peter Eisenburger, 25th June 2005.
 

English version B

„None of the Above” is an album by Peter Hammill, released on his Fie! label in 2000. The genre of „None of the Above” is not located in progressive rock music like Peter Hammill's band Van der Graaf Generator and some of his earlier solo albums, but can be described best as singer/songwriter. Along with „This” (1998) and „What, now?” (2001) „None of the Above” belongs to a set of three albums Peter Hammill recorded around the turn of the millennium and of which it is the most accessible albeit the most conventional in terms of composition and instrumentation.

Peter Hammill recorded „None of the Above” in his home studio ("Sofa Sound") between January 1999 and February 2000, playing, producing and arranging nearly all instruments and singing nearly all voices. Some minor contributions were made by Stuart Gordon (violin, viola) on three tracks and Manny Elias (drums, percussion) on one track. Peter Hammill's daughters Holly and Beatrice Hammill sing backing soprano voices on two tracks. The carefully arranged instrumentation is dominated by guitars (more as a „colour-wash”, as Peter Hammill wrote in his newsletter), keyboards and some strings.

The long recording time is due to Peter Hammill's parallel work on a remastered 4-CD compilation of Van der Graaf Generator called „The Box”.

The title of the album refers, as a typical Peter Hammill play on words, to the English phrase „None of the above” meaning none of the choices on a form are appropriate. The expression can be seen here as a metaphor for „people in earthy and/or earthly circumstances”, i.e. as the opposite to heavenly conditions.

The mood of the album is calm and melancholic. A typical song is „Naming the rose”, a chamber music-like arrangement for lead vocals, keyboards (in hammond organ sound), violas and background choirs. It is about a gardener who names his last creation – a damask rose – after his wife who died on the very day the best blossom opened. The rose breeder fertilizes the seeds of the variety with the ashes of his wife. Thus the couple that had no children both live on in the new rose.

The first seven tracks all have the same topic as „Naming the Rose”: people coming to an end of a phase in their life – in very different circumstances. But the eighth song („Astart”) says: every end can be a new start. In his newsletter from April 2000, Peter Hammill comments:

„This song doesn't hold out the possibility of changing one's past or even one's present; but it does propose that one should embrace both and go forward in expectation....”

The cover shows a serious-looking Peter Hammill photographed by Dinu and the back cover – again alluding to the title of the album – a section of the star-spangled sky.

Paul Rideout again designed the booklet. Each double page shows a washed-out photo presenting a staircase or a ladder ending nowhere or against a bricked entrance or upon an empty floor with black garbage bags lying around. Only the last double page for the song "Astart" shows busy people on an elevator rolling into some kind of shop scene.

Peter Eisenburger, 11th July 2007.

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Hochgeladen am 8. August 2021.

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