As Van Der Graaf Generator fans reconcile themselves to another inevitable postponement of the originally-scheduled Spring 2020 tour the prospect arises of significant consolation. There’s news just in from Peter Hammill of a upcoming solo album; In Translation is set for release in early May. It’s a collection of other peoples songs performed as only Peter can. Songs from the classical canon, the Great American Songbook, Italian pop, and Tango; from Europe, the USA and South America.
Recorded in Wiltshire during lockdown here are a few thoughts from the man himself:
“This collection seems to fit together as a group, not least because most of these songs are to do with measures of dislocation, of loss, of some kind of imagined future which didn’t arrive.
“Only three of the songs here were originally in English; I’ve translated the rest, having had a some experience of song translation over the years. I didn’t feel that I could do proper justice to the songs if I sang them in the original languages. My approach has always been to make cultural rather than strictly linguistic translations, so that the spirit of the song rather than its precise narrative is rendered.
“I was unfamiliar with several of these songs before I began this project. One discovery led on to another in a kind of paper trail. It’s worth noting that many of the back stories to the songs are interesting and some of the writers and singers had a spectacularly dramatic time of things. I doff my hat to these sometimes complicated lives. I hope I’ve addressed the material, the writers, and the original performers, with due and proper respect. Inevitably though there’s spin here, mine all mine.
“These recordings were made, of course, in the time of Covid and lockdown. But also in the knowledge that Brexit – in all its horror – was fast approaching. So these performances of, for the most part, European songs were my last as a European singer, with all the rights and privileges that has brought me for so many years”
The Folks Who Live On The Hill (Kern/Hammerstein)
Hotel Supramonte (de André/Bubola)
Ciao Amore (Tenco)
This Nearly Was Mine (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
After A Dream (Fauré/Bussine)
Ballad For My Death (Piazzolla/Ferrer)
I Who Have Nothing (Magati/Mogol/Leiber/Stoller)
Il Vino (Ciampi/Marchetti)
Lost To The World (Mahler/Rückert)
Recorded at Terra Incognita, Wiltshire, March-December 2020
Recorded, performed and produced by Peter Hammill