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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thin man's Thin Air,
Bought direct from sofasound, this release came rather early into my mitts. Naturally, it's a complex and dark affair.
The vocals as ever are challenging, and brilliantly multi-layered, the lyrics deep and imbued with multiple interpretations.
Song wise, I found "Undone" instantly accessible - and I've been humming it ever since, it's a cracking anthemic number - with even - oh the horror - a guitar solo!!! ;o)
"Ghosts of Planes" boasts a brilliant tremelo guitar ambience, and "The Mercy" is a haunting number in numerous sections. Its a strong opening track on an album of occasionally sparse, but atmospheric arrangements that has quite a loose "played" feel to it.
Overall, it will take some getting used to - as most of his recent works do, but it's a downbeat collection of songs that as ever, are intelligent and provocative.
It's not his most catchy set of tunes, but once again the unsung genius that is Peter Hammill has created a solid body of work that deserves FAR wider recognition, than just us privileged folks "in the know" already!
After a few more listens - I wouldn't be surprised if I'd give it the full 5 stars. As yet - I'm discovering more each time - and it's definitely a grower.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of Darkness,
As I've written before, if you ask any ten Peter Hammill fans what their favourite solo PH album is, you'll most likely get ten different answers, and they'll all be able to argue their case passionately. Bear that in mind as you read any of these reviews, especially mine.
I've been a Hammill fan for some years now, and he's one of the few artists that, while I will not always agree with his musical choices, I will forgive him pretty much anything. If he turns out something that...um, may not be to my taste, there's a good chance that, at some point, he'll come back with something that's just stunning. It may take a while, but he will. His previous release, "Singularity", took me by surprise after a series of so-so albums for being quite so brilliant, sharp and cohesive. After that, I held my breath and waited to see how he'd follow that.
And so we have "Thin Air" which, while it lacks the immediacy of its predecessor, shines with a luminous, eerie quality all of its own. It's a dense, layered piece, full of ruminations on death and even suicide and yet...and yet, somehow Hammill, in his inimitable and unique way, works it into something approaching glory. It feels muted, but beats with a definite pulse right from the human heart. Of particular note are the menacing, sinuous instrumental "Wrong Way Round", the spooky, other-worldly "Ghosts of Planes" with its chugging, twanging guitars in the background, sounding as if they fell off the back of a David Lynch film and "If We Must Part Like This", which spirals outwards, chiming acoustic guitars and chugging electric ones circling Hammill's still-astonishing voice. There's also the anthemic "Undone" and....well, every corner you turn on this album yields another surprise. The thing is, every time you turn the same corner, there's a different surprise waiting for you.
Despite his protestations (and those of his more hard-core fans) Hammill is definitely an acquired taste, but he's one that's worth the effort. Those who give this album a chance will be richly rewarded with an intelligent, passionate and haunting experience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark, but worth the effort,
Around the time of the "Love Songs" album I heard a radio interview with Peter Hammill in which he railed somewhat at the perception that his work is "difficult". This perception is, of couse, an attraction for many of his fans, but doesn't easily endear him to a wider audience. Well if any Hammill album is difficult it is "Thin Air", being a bleak affair dwelling on loss, failure, sadness and endings; a guaranteed turn-off for the Radio 1 crowd. It is, however a fine album; "Undone" and "The Top of the World Club" being early favourites in a work which rewards repeated and careful listening.
For sheer emotional intensity it is comparable to "Over" (though less tuneful),to the point where it lacks even the limited light and shade of its excellent predecessor "Singularity".
All the music is by pH; no guests this time. The sounds themselves are largely atmospheric backdrop to The Voice, which is in fine fettle, as ever.
So difficult, yes- and dark, challenging and occasionally uncomfortable. It may not be the place to start a Hammill collection, but it has an essential place in one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trascendent gem,
Hammill has recorded a lot of albums..maybe too many. But this one is a gem from start to end. We love the daring musician who's not afraid to experiment. HIs playing is exact. The eerie voices, the piano, Meurglys the guitar, and above all his heart.One of his best albums. Period.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best since Over,
All I want to say here is that those who have only given this 4 stars need to think again. Quite simply, this is Hammill's best since Over and is in the same league as all of his/VDG greats. This really is essential listening for people with brains (I think!).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thin Air by Peter Hammill,
The latest offering from Peter Hammill brings back many of the strong elements of previous solo work. In his newsletter Peter feels this may be a recording that will benefit from a number of listenings; whilst agreeing with this sentiment it is a piece of work you will love from the first playing. I recommend that you have sufficient volume to appreciate the work.
The use of instruments and the structure of the music continues to delight and the use of piano remains one of my favourite aspects of his solo work.
For a personal review of each song go to the Sofa Sound website.Thin Air
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a classic?,
The first thing to say is that this has been Hammill's most difficult album to get to know for quite some time. Definately complex, and as you would expect, rewards the listener who can dedicate themselves to 20 plus intensive listening sessions. And the material is dark, but strangely feels less so as the material becomes more familiar. For me, there are 2 classic songs, 2 I can skip and the rest are very good.
Top of the World Club - A proper Hammill classic, regular shifts in the music, excellent lyrics and vocals and a fantastic ending to the song and album. The absolute classic moment being 'The stars are darkened, the stars extingishing one by one...' Only Hammill writes like this.
Stumbled - Sits somewhere between 'Driven' and 'Just a Child' as a guitar driven song. An excellent tune.
Your face on the street - A good underlying song rined for me by the dual vocals - ... for christ sake... just doesn't do it for me lyrically or musically
If we mst part like this - I don't find the tune attractive and the emotional voice too much of a strain - The album is missing a classic love song.
The very goods:
The Mercy - almost a classic in the vein of Top of The World Club, but the end verse is a little weak for me and some of the instrmental sections wold benefit from greater instrumentation such as violin.
Wrong Way Wrong - shock horror! A decent instrmental, in fact this should have been worked up into a proper song for Hammill or VDGG.
Ghosts of planes - Very atmospheric but is crying ot for some fracture sax to kick in and build as the song goes along (as it does in fogwalking. Not going to happen now I know.
Undone - the most easily accessable, anthemic song on the album and one I though I wold grow tired of, but it keeps growing on me, probably due to the fact it's kept admirably short. Very much the same territory musically as 'Tango for One'.
Diminished - Nice tune and an ending that is cross between a chilled out 'Magog' and 'A Light Continent'
One small complaint - the almost constant use of electronic tambarine sounds through most of the songs - gets on my nerves and doesn't add mch musically.
So all in all, a very good album and I'd position it above Clutch but just behind Incoherence. (But not a full blooded classic such as Silent Corner... the best place for someone new to Hammill to start).
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought it again,
This review is from: Thin Air (MP3 Download)
I'm away from my CD's and didn't get time to rip it to my phone but missed it so much I bought it again.
Post heart-attack Hammill, not always an easy listen, Ghosts of Planes is particularly chilling. Certainly creates an ambience...
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical, Peter Hammill,
I've just played this album for the first time. It seems a bit better than Singularity, though I like Singularity too. With lighter instrumentation, mostly piano or guitar based songs, focused on the essence of the song itself, however the backwards and noise guitars, with layered vocals by Mr.pH are present too. Definetely, Thin Air needs to be listened more than once.
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