A stronger effort in many ways than Trisector, but more lyrical weakness. Lines like ‘Mathematics / Just so “wow” it brooks belief’ (from track 2, ‘Mathematics’) are more common than one would like to admit. On the other hand, there a lot of musically strong numbers – track 3, ‘Highly Strung’ is one of those – Hammill, Banton, and Evans seem to be finding their places as a trio in a way that wasn’t evident on Trisector (even though the three had been playing together for decades).

Opener, Your Time Starts Now, is almost theatrical with sweeping organ fills, and big concepts about how the addressee hasn’t been getting on with it, but now must.

vdgg-agin-cdIt’s a poppier affair, at least in terms of song length. Five tracks clock in under three minutes; only four break five; and only one breaks six.

Snake Oil certainly speaks to the current dystopian zeitgeist, ‘Brainwashed and bound to believe in the orthodox text, slogans on t-shirts, / the punters can’t wait to be told
what to think of next’, from a slightly different angle to 2005’s Every Bloody Emperor.

Side note – I posted that song on FB last week and my mother shared it out. If even my mother (who loves Leonard Cohen, but otherwise listens to musical theatre, classical music, and a lot of NPR) would give Van Der Graaf a try, what would it take to get that song up on the charts?)

Smoke has a funky keyboard opening that slides in and out of something nearly disco (in a good way), but after slipping into something even weirder, they decided not to take it very far. Despite the line ‘You held your inattention’, two and half minutes is as far as they decided to take it before segueing into 5533, another song ostensibly about something mathematical (‘As the primacy of digits ticks the boxes / So the codes that they unlock begin to run’).

A Grounding In Numbers closes with All Over The Place, which might be as good a title for the album as the one they used. The longest track on the album, it leads with a nice harpsichord melody (that might be a counterpoint to the organ of Your Time Starts Now) but the whole song is still a little piecemeal, like they felt they had to do something proggy and multi-sectional.