martes, 6 de abril de 2010

A plague of lighthouse keepers, de Van der Graaf Generator

Una de esas piezas que no se olvidan, "A plague of lighthouse keepers", el largo tema que ocupaba toda la segunda cara del disco Pawn Hearts (1971) de Van der Graaf Generator. Peter Hammill, a la voz y el piano eléctrico, Dave Jackson, a los saxos tenor y alto y el pedal wah-wah, Hugh Banton, al órgano, sintetizador y efectos, y Guy Evans, a la batería. El cuarteto canónico de los VDGG. La letra, de Hammill, es puro Melville condensado en una suite de rock progresivo. La música, una inspirada sucesión de escenas musicales que traslucen un impecable sentido del drama y unas influencias nada comunes en una banda de rock de aquellos años. A continuación, una buena filmación de la televisión belga troceada en cuatro partes. No perderse el final de la pieza, en el cuarto clip, con Hammill brindando para el espectador.

i. Eyewitness
Still waiting for my saviour, storms tear me limb from limb;
my fingers feel like seaweed... I'm so far out I'm too far in.
I am a lonely man, my solitude is true,
my eyes have borne stark witness
and now my knights are numbered, too.

I've seen the smiles on dead hands,
the stars shine, but they're not for me.

I prophesy disaster and then I count the cost....
I shine but, shining, dying, I know that I am almost lost.
On the table lies blank paper and my tower is built on stone
I only have blunt scissors, I only have the bluntest home.
I've been the witness, and the seal of death
lingers in the molten wax that is my head.

When you see the skeletons
of sailing-ship spars sinking low
You'll begin to wonder if the points of all the ancient myths
are solemnly directed straight at you...

ii. Pictures/Lighthouse

iii. Eyewitness
No time now for contrition, the time for that's long past,
the walls are thin as tissue and if I talk I'll crack the glass.
So I only think on how it might have been,
locked in silent monologue, in silent scream.

I'm much too tired to speak
and, as the waves crash on the bleak
stones of the tower, I start to freak
and find that I am overcome...

iv. S.H.M.
'Unreal, unreal!' ghost helmsmen scream and fall in through the sky,
not breaking through my seagull shrieks - no breaks until I die.
The spectres scratch on window-slits,
the hollowed faces, mindless grins
are only intent on destroying what they've lost.

I crawl the wall till steepness ends in the vertical fall;
my pail has sailed into the sea - no joking hopes at dawn.
White bone shine in the iron-jaw mask
lost mastheads pierce the freezing dark
and parallel my isolated tower....
no paraffin for the flame
no harbour left to gain

v. The Presence of the Night/Kosmos Tours
'Alone, alone,' the ghosts all call,
pinpoint me in the light.
The only life I feel at all
is the presence of the night.

Would you cry if I died?
Would you cry if I died?
Would you catch the final words of mine?
Would you catch my words?
I know that there's no time
I know that there's no rhyme...
false signs find me.
I don't want to hate, I just want to grow;
why can't I let me live and be free?
... but I die very slowly alone.

I know no more ways, I am so afraid,
myself won't let me just be myself
and so I am completely alone....

The maelstrom of my memory
is a vampire and it feeds on me;
now, staggering madly, over the brink I fall.

vi. (Custard's) Last Stand
Lighthouses might house the key but can I reach the door?

I want to walk on the sea so that I may better find a shore;
but how can I ever keep my feet dry?
I scan the horizon,
I must keep my eyes on all parts of me.

Looking back on the years it seems that I have lost the way:
Like a dog in the night I have run to a manger
... now I am the stranger I stay in.
Ah, well.

All of the grief I have seen leaves me chasing solitary peace;
but I hold experience in my head.
I'm too close to the light,
I don't think I see right, for I blind me....

vii. The Clot Thickens
Where is the God that guides my hand?
How can the hands of others reach me?
When will I find what I grope for?
Who is going to teach me?
I am me / me are we / we can't see
any way out of here.
Crashing sea, atrophied history:
Chance has lost my Guinevere....

I don't want to be one wave in the water
But sea will drag me deep:
One more haggard drowned man

I can see the Lemmings coming, but I know I'm just a man.
Do I join or do I founder? Which can is the best I may?

viii. Land's End (Sineline)/We Go Now
Oceans drifting sideways, I am pulled into the spell,
I feel you around me, I know you well.
Stars slice horizons where the lines stand much too stark;
I feel I am drowning - hands stretch in the dark.

Camps of panoply and majesty, what is Freedom of Choice?
Where do I stand in the pageantry, whose is my voice?
It doesn't feel so very bad now, I think the end is the start.
Begin to feel very glad now:
All things are a part
All things are a part
All things ara a part

3 comentarios:

  1. Impresionante. A mí me partió la cabeza desde la primera vez.
    Pero olvida usted mencionar, mr. Torrance, que la versión de estudio también cuenta con el señor Robert Fripp a la guitarra...

  2. vaya, hace unos dias estuve reescuchando sus discos. me quedo con ganas de ver el video. lo guardo para la vuelta del trabajo.

  3. hola Ignacio. tienes razón, Fripp estuvo en la grabación del disco, como también en parte del anterior. de todos modos en la entrada comentaba la formación que puede verse en la filmación. de hecho, si no recuerdo mal, un día de estos lo comprobaré, en "Plague" Hammill también tocaba la acústica en algún momento. bueno, me parece. en todo caso, ese tema, ese disco y ese grupo son una cosa irrepetible. una cosa que no comenté ayer, y esta mañana en el curro pensaba, es ese momento de Jackson con los dos saxos a la vez, en plan Roland Kirk, pero haciendo como de sirenas de barcos lejanos. un momentazo, vamos.
    un saludo


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