The sound is becoming tighter with this album – less prog, more new wave, as was not uncommon at the time – look at the direction Peter Gabriel took the same year. A change in sound is due in part, it seems, to the departures of organist Hugh Banton and saxophonist/flautist David Jackson, the return of bassist Nic Potter and the addition of violinist Graham Smith. A violin riff from Smith opens Lizard Play, the album’s first track. It’s a signal of new things, to be sure. Lizard Play is also notable for some nicely mixed harmonies.

vdgg-quietz2Running times are shorter, arrangements are less improvisational, but the vocals are still speaking/howling combinations we’ve come to know and love. Replacing horns with a violin produces a slightly more listener-friendly sound, which works well with the shorter songs.

I especially like the double-tracked violin in the second half of Cat’s Eye/Yellow Fever (Running). That’s a mouthful of a title – I think we’ve got the same glut of ideas that populate earlier VDGG work, but condensed somewhat. There’s a fine lip-sync video of this track (alas the sound is not cleaned up) that shows there was also a cellist in this lineup. You can hear the cello on the album, but the player isn’t credited on Wikipedia. The notes for the video name him as Chas Dickie.

The Sphinx In The Face (one of two songs on which Jackson plays) opens with a Dirty Water-style bassline which is kind of tasty. Stylistically it might have done well if pushed as a new wave track, but lyrically it relies heavily on the repetition of a refrain that Hammill usually avoids. (And I’m not sure if You’re so young, you’re so old / You’re so queer, you’re so strong / Such a drag to be told / You’re so here, you’re so gone ranks with his best writing. A 90-second reprise after Chemical World seems a little superfluous.)

Chemical World is sort of Suede meets Fairport Convention via Hamilton Beach.

It’s kind of an odd album to go out on. They toured it and released a live album (Vital, coming up next), and then went on hiatus for 28 years.