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Record Review Reprint
The K Group
Companion to Enter K much as A Black Box is companion to ph7. More of what Hammill dubbed his "neo-beat combo". I feel that this album overcame the initial enthusiasm of working with a band again and thus Hammill's unique personality shows more. That is a good thing. This is obvious with Labour of Love which opens in plain enough style but whose chorus is a marvellous Hammill shock of contrast. I was delighted at this point of the album when I first heard it. Strains of the rumbling monster Van der Graaf were able to conjure with such fury. With Film Noir I feel we have Hammill's best normal 1980s rock track by far. A fine introduction and perfect pop structure with Hammill at last sounding comfortable in this format. One of the finest moments of his mid-period. The chorus is really quite an experience. This is how intelligent pop should be written. Excellence in restraints shines brightly. Just Good Friends show the direction that his more introspective moment were to take in the interim period before his later period. Moody and subtle. This generates an ambiguous mood not really explored by Hammill before. Jeunesse Doree is based around another perfect 1980s guitar line. A little weak in the chorus. Morse code tappings open Traintime which is a unique track in the Hammill repertoire. The build of tension in the opening is relieved by a subtle melody developed well to the end. The percussion is somewhat unimaginative. Another guitar line for the archives and Now More Than Ever comes and goes with a superb rhythmic intermezzo and vocally beautiful bridge. Hammill is at home at last in the 1980s. Comfortable begins rather weakly with acoustic guitar but punctuates with a nice main theme and characteristic harmonising. Patience, the title track is perhaps the culmination of the entirety of Hammill's middle era output. Suppressed warping sounds and caged fury strain against a vaguely unnerving guitar picking. This cannot be kept down and so the guitar breaks out into power chords with whispered vocals. I feel that this track shows exactly the control Hammill had achieved over his early venom. Filtered through such structure, it arrives with real force and verve. A polished album of fine material, never to be repeated along the same lines again.
© 1996 Phil Kime
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