The Delicious Dark World of Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas

Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas - Other World
Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas – Other World
Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas

Other World (Cherry Red Records, 2014)

At first listen the slide down the rabbit hole of Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas’s Other World seems easy, but it isn’t long before Hammill and Lucas start to manhandle you at their leisure and manhandle in a very good way. With rough licks and delectable shoves, Hammill and Lucas are taking you where they want to go because you are not in charge of this journey. Other World is an escapist’s dreamland.

Co-composing and playing all the music on Other World, singer, songwriter, guitarist and composer Peter Hammill and guitarist and composer Gary Lucas teamed up for this 2012 collaboration as a result of a 1973 backstage meet after a solo performance by Hammill. Peter Hammill, of Van Der Graaf Generator fame, has carved out an impressive career that includes recent solo recordings Silent Corner & the Empty Stage, Nadirs Big Chance, Consequences, Fools Mate and Chameleons in the Shadow of the Night. Equally impressive Gary Lucas, of Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley, has goodies of his own like Cinefantastique, The Ordeal of Civility with God and Monsters, Songs to No One with Jeff Buckley, The Edge of Heaven and Beyond the Pale. The collaboration on Other World has pleased the pair, so much so that they are looking to set up some live performance dates.

Lucas explains the initial inspiration for the collaboration, “…through the miracle of the internet we re-connect and Peter was as keen as I was to collaborate, inviting me up to Bath, where we spent a couple days recording in his home studio/laboratory. It was a total dream for me.”

Peter Hammill says of the process, “When Gary arrived at my studio in January 2012 we didn’t exactly have a grand plan about what we were about to attempt. He’d told me that he had some pieces which might be worth working on and that he’d also look forward to creating some improved sonics to which I might add something. For my part I’d prepared some looped pieces, some experimental sound washes and I, too, had a couple of bare-bone song ideas. Fundamentally, though, we probably thought we’d have done well if we managed to get an EP of some sort out of the session.”

He adds, “From the first note it became clear that we were on exactly the same wavelength and the project unfolded with seamless speed. After a couple of days we knew that we had the makings of the album.”

Flashing brilliant with acoustic and electric guitars, vox, effects and found sounds, Hammill and Lucas lure you in with the folksy, singer/songwriter feel of the opening “Spinning Coins” before doling out a dose of twangy dark on “Some Kind of Fracas.” The feel of being down the rabbit hole soon becomes apparent with the electronica laced neo-hippy folk on “Of Kith and Kin” against the craggy sharpness of “Cash.”

Once you hit instrumentals “Built From Scratch” and “Attar of Roses” it’s just best to give yourself over and surrender to the goodness. But Hammill and Lucas aren’t done with you with the blues edged “This Is Showbiz” and the fantastical “Reboot” with its beyond the edge vocals. “2 Views” comes out of nowhere and surprises with its lushly caressing vocals. The guitar meatiness of “Means to an End” will certainly have fans begging for more and that’s not just because it’s really short. “Slippery Slope” ends the CD and the delicious journey with lanky guitar lines that seem to hover in an electronica heavy space.

Other World grabs your hand and pulls you into the delicious dark.

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