Exposé Online banner

Van der Graaf Generator — Aerosol Grey Machine
(Fontana 6430 083, 1969, LP)

by Paul Hightower, Published 1997-10-01

Aerosol Grey Machine Cover art

That it took so long to have this, the 1969 debut from Van der Graaf Generator, released to CD is a wonder. But that we have it is better than not, I suppose. Plus there's the rare first single "People You Were Going To" / "Firebrand" as an extra special bonus! The first thing that strikes the listener is the very delicate English-ness of Peter Hammill’s voice. He seemed so deliciously wrapped up in all that late 60s post-psychedelic Blakean flower power that was the fertile spawning ground for all the classic English prog groups. Since Aerosol Grey Machine was originally planned as a Hammill solo album, it's clear that he is the center of this album's universe, as singer, songwriter, main muse, and soul. Aside from the instrumental "Black Smoke Yen," Hammill's voice and acoustic guitar anchor these 12 songs with organist Hugh Banton, drummer Guy Evans, and bassist Keith Ellis in support. But make no mistake, these songs are essentially voice and acoustic guitar pieces and are downright primitive by today's standards. Musically speaking VdGG would evolve from these humble beginnings but from a vocal and lyrical point of view, AGM shows a continuity with all of Hammill's work, even to the present day. The songs are not particularly complex or technically daunting, but they do represent the lyrical and emotional aspect of progressive rock in archetypal fashion. For progressive rock, Aerosol Grey Machine is an important historical statement that deserves attention.


Filed under: New releases, Reissues, Issue 13, 1969 releases

Related artist(s): Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator

Latest news

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hiromi's Sonicbloom - Time Control – Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara's previous releases have all borne the name "Hiromi" and basically consisted of her standing trio with bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora. Guitarist...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues