Van der Graaf - The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome (1977) (1 Viewer)


chronic procrastinator
Staff member
Since 1999
Nov 14, 1999
4.50 star(s) Rating: 4.50/5 2 Votes
Title: The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
Artist: Van der Graaf
Released: 1977

1 - Lizard Play - 4:29
2 - The Habit of the Broken Heart - 4:40
3 - The Siren Song - 6:04
4 - Last Frame - 6:13
5 - The Wave - 3:14
6 - Cat's Eye / Yellow Fever (Running) - 5:20
7 - The Sphinx in the Face - 5:57
8 - Chemical World - 6:10
9 - The Sphinx Returns - 1:16

The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, released in 1977, was Van der Graaf Generator's last studio album before their 2005 reunion. The album features a more energetic, new wave sound than its three immediate predecessors, anticipating singer and songwriter Peter Hammill's late '70s solo work.

For this album, bassist Nic Potter returned to the band, having left in 1970, and violinist Graham Smith (String Driven Thing), also joined the line-up, in place of departed members organist Hugh Banton and saxophonist David Jackson, modifying the band's sound considerably. Officially, the band's name was shortened to just "Van der Graaf" for this album and the live album Vital that followed, but contemporaneous Charisma Records promotional materials used both the full and shortened name.


Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2010
Listening on some headphones in a cafe, not bad a good solid rhythm section with a decent bass sound. I like how it they keep it calm even when you feel they could go a bit mad with it.
It reminds of some Legendary Pink Dots with the violin a bit. Its Just a shame that The Sphinx gets such a short epilogue !

Cornu Ammonis

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2011
On my third listen now.

I was expecting something a bit heavier so only really getting to grips with it now. It reminds me a lot of David Bowie (no particular period, a lot of later Bowie here which is interesting, going to guess he was a fan). The violin playing is great, reminds me of David Cross's work with King Crimson but not quite as good. Actually, they remind me a bit of King Crimson during the more energetic passages here (sorry @Shaney?, I know you hate KC) - "Last Frame" could have been on Starless and Bible Black.

Honestly, I don't think three listens is enough to do this justice. I'm going to keep going with it as tracks that I thought on first and second listen were pure filler (like "The Siren Song") are actually deadly. I can see myself getting a lot deeper into this. Might do a marathon of all their albums and see how I get on.


Bodacious Cowboy Xennial
Sep 8, 2003
a white house with a folly
Album Club Catch-Up time...

I never really thought about Bowie before but I can kinda hear it alright. I can't put my finger on any particular Bowie era/album/song though, in a lot of ways they're worlds apart. Maybe it's something in the vocal style and delivery or something. Also, now that you mention it, maybe I can hear a similarity in the drumming between the more full-on bits here and Blackstar although that's mostly just my mind insisting on responding to the suggestion. That said...

Those who have acknowledged his (Peter Hammill's) influence include David Bowie, John Lydon, Mark E Smith (of The Fall), Nick Cave, Graham Coxon and Luke Haines, of Black Box Recorder and The Auteurs.
Peter Hammill: Heart attack music


Johnny Rotten said:
Music geeks made up a large portion of the progressive rock audience, but Van der Graaf Generator was gathering attention from an unexpected place. In 1977, punk pioneer Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols played guest DJ on a British radio show. He called Hammill a true original, saying, "If you listen to him, I'm sure [David] Bowie copied a lot."
Peter Hammill: Prog Rock's Unsung Hero

He later referred to Hammill as a "posh cunt" (or middle-class cunt maybe, something like that, I will have to consult the biography to confirm...). I think Bowie was more of a musical magpie than Hammill. Unfortunately I'm going to have to relisten to fucking Starless & Bible Black to assess just how far off the mark that comparison truly/hopefully is.

Anyway for me this is basically a bunch of deadly rock songs played most excellently by a great band. It's the kind of album that could sound kinda poncey and foppy but it'd still beat other bands in fights, even Slayer or ACDC or Thin Lizzy. The songs are kinda restless, they stay in the zone but shift gears and change pace all the time.

Additional points:
  • Peter Hammill was at his peak at this point I think
  • The drumming is fantastic, Guy Evans is the best drummer ever
  • The other lads two were alright too
  • The songs kinda shape-shift around without being all-over-the-place
  • The production is very dry and unobtrusive
  • Sounds of it's time but not too dated because of the production and instrumentation
  • The wah-wah fiddle was maybe not a great idea but it's not too bad.
  • Yellow Fever / Cat's Eye is a bit cheesy and skippable
Music information in first post provided by The AudioDB

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