Peter Hammill


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Peter Hammill has been at it for almost 40 years now, and yet, since the early 2000s, he has been on a new way up, creatively speaking. Clutch (2002) and Incoherence (2004), his previous two studio albums, had both hit high artistic marks, but that is only one of the main reasons why Singularity was so highly anticipated by the fans. It was also the Thin Man's first studio album since remastering his '70s LPs for EMI, his first since the re-formation of his old group, Van der Graaf Generator. Yet, most importantly, especially for a man of words like he is, it was his first studio release since his heart attack two years earlier. Were all the expectations generated by these "firsts" met? Surprisingly, yes. Singularity stands among Hammill's best albums of the past 25 years. He recorded it entirely on his own, playing everything, including drums, something he had not done since 1980's A Black Box. The songs are also significantly darker than on previous albums and integrate more experimental elements, two factors bestowing a certain reminiscence of his late-'70s oeuvre again. Singularity is full of backward textures, abstract sound paintings, and massed choruses that go resolutely beyond the way Hammill was overdubbing his vocals in the past decade. The "weirdness" factor culminates in the closing "White Dot," by far the man's most stunning aural concoction of late. Before reaching that apocalyptic finale, the listener is treated to a number of excellent, more accessible tunes, including two strong rock songs ("Our Eyes Give It Shape," very uplifting, and "Vainglorious Boy," reminiscent of the material found on Roaring Forties, another standout album), a couple of heartfelt ballads (including the moving "Meanwhile My Mother"), and strange midway tracks in "Event Horizon" and "Famous Last Words," which pair up strong songwriting and epic leanings, Hammill's forte since the early '70s. After the guitar-only Clutch and the keyboard-heavy Incoherence, Singularity gets back to a certain balance, adding along the way an experimental vein that must be coming from remastering LPs such as The Future Now and A Black Box. The album clearly looks back on previous accomplishments, but it does so without ever sounding nostalgic -- it's taking stock, then looking forward. Highly recommended.

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