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Peter Hammill - X/Ten (Fie Records)

Star rating: 
3

This release is essentially a complete, yet sparsely performed live version of Peter Hammill's last album FROM THE TREES, which was released in 2017. The songs are in the same running order, each performed on either acoustic guitar or piano and lifted from European shows recorded between November 2017 and May 2018 in both Italy and Germany, together with one song recorded in Bristol. As idiosyncratic a performance as one might expect from the former Van der Graaf Generator singer, the songs are roughly hewn, so much so that the singer almost apologises in advance in his sleeve notes that accompany the release. As he points out though, the errors could very well be "outweighed by moments of intensity and inspiration."

The value of this collection is really their stripped down to basics form, presumably something possibly like they must have originally sounded when first written. Those familiar with Hammill's distinctive vocal delivery from the late Sixties on, will be little fazed by these performances, whereas newcomers might just be a little startled. Packaged in a sleeve resembling something close to the old gatefold LP covers of Hammill's formative years, complete with inner sleeve for the disc, X/Ten is certainly a must for fans and completists.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky