Thursday, March 30, 2017

Peter Hammill - 1992 - Fireships

Peter Hammill 

01. I Will Find You (4:43)
02. Curtains (5:43)
03. His Best Girl (5:00)
04. Oasis (5:37)
05. Incomplete Surrender (6:38)
06. Fireships (7:21)
07. Given Time (6:32)
08. Reprise (4:18)
09. Gaia (5:32)

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitar (1,6,7), keyboards (1,3,5,6), piano (2,7,9), bass (6), percussion (1,4,6), strings & winds (5), co-producer

- David Lord / keyboards (2,4,7), orchestration (2,9), bass & percussion (4), strings & winds (7), samplers (8), co-producer
- John Ellis / guitar (5)
- Stuart Gordon / violin (2-6)
- David Jackson / soprano sax & flute (4), alto sax (6)
- Nic Potter / bass (1,3,5)

Yet another intriguing album from Hammill , at least from the artwork point of view and for a long time, I thought there was a link with The Roaring Forties and its intriguing artwork also, but thankfully Fireship is a much better album than TRF. The main obvious difference is that the drumming is not quite as awful as on the other album, but it still is a very basic straight-ahead boring sound. Actually this remark is valid for a lot of Hammill's albums where Guy Evans is absent. And I would never thought I'd say this one day, but actually I wish Hammill would've used drum machines rather than ask drummers to play this poor and unimaginative. Oooops, I think he actually does on this one...
Aside from this remark (I specify again this is valid for many of his records), the album is rather above the average compared to his entire discography, but again the same remarks also applies to this album regarding the choice (dare I say the relevance?) of the tracks: half of them would've gained their inclusion elsewhere. Hammill's usual collabs of the time are again present (Potter, Gordon and to a lesser extent Ellis and Jackson), but the difference with this album is David Lord with his kb, strings orchestral arrangements and he even gets a co-writing credit and a co-production credit. Not that his contributions are changing anything under the Hammill Sun, as the tracks are still generally slow-paced allowing for some interesting ambiances (start of Incomplete Surrender), but again this album fails to take off. I realize that Hammill's songs (with generally extremely profound and personal lyrics) are not designed to "take-off", but we can only be slightly disappointed when the tracks speed up slightly, the level of decibels slightly rise above the quiet-mark, only to be cruelly deceived when the track falls back down to its previous levels. Exception must be made of the lengthier title track, which does temporarily raise the tone of voice, but it is unfortunately marred by awful drum programming sounds.

Not anymore than essential than his other records from the era, the least we can say is that Hammill's inspirations were not at an all-time high in the early 90's. Best discovered after his 70's and early 80's (and even his 00's) albums.

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