Peter Hammill — X My Heart
(Fie! 9111, 1996, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1996-08-01
Here's another work in the "difficult artiste" series from prolific songwriter Peter Hammill. How many releases does this make for him? Over 20, not including compilations? He has consistently displayed high-quality work since 1968 including several experimental projects. Recorded last year at home, this new set of songs is not another exampe of a snobby, sophisticated attitude. Hammill's vocal delivery has always been a bit like channeling a spirit during a seance, influenced in part by dramatic stage presentation. The songwriting itself has, again, a profound, ponderous weight for your average pop song that challenges you into conscious active listening. Themes addressed reflect on life in specific (as Peter perceives it), love triangles and relationships, deception, and materiality. Personnel on the disc include Van der Graaf alumnus Dave Jackson on flute and saxes; Stuart Gordon on strings; and Manny Elias (ex-Tears for Fears) on drums. Hammill himself handles guitars, keyboards, and bass (Nic Potter MIA). A track of discernible interest is "A Better Time," which is a pretty positive statement on why "I'll never find a better time to be alive than now." The piece has two versions: a multi-tracked, monastery-choir-like arrangement performed a capella and a more standard accompaniment. "Amnesiac" is a song seemingly about forgetting important points of communication in a relationship that features a fragile violin and wood flute accompaniment. There is nothing too sinister this time out from Hammill: has he finally turned the edge on that level of intensity he excels at? I believe he continues to mature as an artist in much the same fashion as Charisma label mate Peter Gabriel. In his middle age, Hammill continues to mature as a wise, reflective artist with key perspectives, wit and depth, but he is still a talent much in need of wider appreciation.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more