Peter Hammill — The Peel Sessions
(Strange Fruit SFRCD136, 1995, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1996-03-01
At last the quintessential cult artist has received the cherished BBC Peel sessions treatment! Peter Hammill' 25th official release (excluding recent compilations and bootlegs of note) encompasses a body of work spanning fourteen years of esoteric genius. This is a solo work in the truest sense: mostly simple vocal, piano and guitar giving the disc a characteristic, stark, bare bones atmosphere. Time slices represented are as follows: early period Van der Graaf Generator tracks such as “Afterwards” ( a very delicate rendition featuring Graham Smith's gracefully mournful violin) and a choice version of “The Emperor in His War Room”; 1977 tour material (from Over) including a bitter rendition of “Betrayed,” thirdly is The Future Now / pH7 period (“Mr. X Gets Tense” is probably one of the scarier tracks on here due to make your skin crawl in no small part to pure vocal projection). Lastly, more produced material from In a Foreign Town. Probably the best tracks are “Faint Heart and the Sermon” ( from 1974's classic In Camera) which captures him in iconoclast mode: strong, pushy, the challenging, uncompromising voice in anguish. Final plugs: anyone who could perform a song (even if he didn't write it) and refer to my favorite comic book character, Doctor Strange is pretty cool stuff. Not for the faint-hearted, but still highly recommended and maybe a good starting point for beginners, er... skip that last comment, but search it out anyway.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.