Van der Graaf Generator - A Grounding in Numbers 2011

  1. Your Time Starts Now
  2. Mathematics
  3. Highly Strung
  4. Red Baron
  5. Bunsho
  6. Snake Oil
  7. Splink
  8. Embarrassing Kid
  9. Medusa
  10. Mr. Sands
  11. Smoke
  12. 5533
  13. All Over the Place

  14. Your Time Starts Now

    Your time starts now
    without a question,
    without a clue
    your response will attest
    to suggestion's power, so strong
    and growing stronger.
    With self-belief
    you've pulled through but you belong here no longer.
    Fly by night, it's over; day by day it's done.
    Was it simply oversight that's left you overcome?
    While you've been distracted -
    playfully, no doubt -
    your time's been running out.
    Your time starts now
    and there's the poser.
    You're going to need
    all the help you can get
    for the ride's nearly over.
    All that information,
    all that warp and weft...
    for all your patient fortitude you're patently bereft
    of clue, of hint, of notion,
    of answers, even vague.
    You're ploughing forward nonetheless
    as though by simple doggedness
    the far side'll see you saved.
    Your time starts now
    and yes, you'd best begin it,
    however long
    you've held back,
    you've demurred,
    get on track, pace by pace,
    just go on,
    just go further....


    Here be numbers transcendental,
    on an imaginary axis spun,
    decimal places without limit
        and zero and one.
    Mathematics, simply pure beyond belief.
    e to the power of i times pi plus 1 is 0.
    e to the power of i times pi is -1.
    A single function, exponential,
    just one addition must be done...
    multiplication in completion
        of zero, of one.
    Mathematics, just so "wow" it brooks belief.
    (You'd better believe, you'd better believe it.)

    Highly Strung

    The beat, the beat at my temples; my pulse, my pulse in a rush.
    I'm feeling increasingly mental, legs shaking, my face flushed.
    The lights so bright in a dazzle, the pumping that thumps at my chest.
    I'm feeling increasingly frazzled, need some comfort, need some bedrest
    or some kind of intervention, cold sweat beading up on my brow,
    the hairs on my neck at attention, I don't know why but somehow
    I'm highly strung, I'm stressed as hell,
    I bite my tongue, I hold my breath as well.
    The iron lung, the diving bell...
    time to depressurise, my nerves are shot to hell.
    The beat, the heat is astounding, the pressure, the tension full-blown,
    the static is crackling around me, I can't hold on, I can't let go....
    I'm highly strung, panic attack,
    can't do this one, can't go on with the act.
    I'm frozen on the topmost rung,
    I can't go on, I'm just too highly strung.
        Hold her steady as she goes,
        just be ready, on your toes,
        hold her steady...there she blows!
    The case is shut, the song is sung,
    the wire's been cut and the acrobat's well hung.

    Red Baron



    I'd just done the best work to fall into my hands for quite some time;
    of night oil I'd burned much, made sure both style and content were sublime.
        So I put it forward
        to the public forum
        in anticipation
        of my due acclaim.
    And meanwhile, by contrast, I'd penned a eulogy, pure workaday,
    just hack work, just dashed off, packed full of prolix puff and sad cliche....
    No-one can really tell when their hand's been played out well
        and I don't even know
        how my own story goes   
        or if it's worth a jot.
    I can't see my stream.
    What I thought was perfect,
    what I thought was polished,
    no-one thought it worth much
        and they made that clear.
    What I thought was worthless,
    merely repetition
    somehow tugged the heartstrings,
        brought them all to tears.
    I can't see my stream.
    No-one can ever know
    what of their own's their very best.

    Snake Oil

    Best of intentions, fresh-faced devotees display,
    sat at the feet of the master,
    hoping that this is the one true way.
    Eager awareness, picking the wood from the trees,
    only belief is important, only obedience can set them free.
    Here come the paraphernalia,
    here come the catch-all refrains,
    repeat ad infinitum.
    Slavish devotion, that's how it usually presents,
    in an impossibly pompous
    addiction to doctrines that make no sense.
    Anal retention to an astounding degree,
    self-absorption is total, making obeisance compulsory
    if they want to reach the inner mystery.
    Welcome to the bats in the belfry,
    the buzz-words echo around,
    repeated ad infinitum.
    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...
    oh, what's coming next?
    Well, nothing is coming and nobody here goes
    in search of the questions posterity might pose.
    There's only one answer the believers can allow....
    Yes, teacher knows best, teacher knows best.
    Let's put the teacher to the test, let's put the teacher to the test.
    There's only one answer the disciples will allow out.
    Cultish convention repeated again and again
    until the words have no meaning, until the means have become the end.
    What starts with self-obsession ends up in self-denial,
    they just so want to believe...
    slaves to the snake oil in this particular world,
    elitist and self-referential, the comfort's in sharing the secret word
    with the picture blurred... the companionship of the herd.



    Embarrassing Kid

    Embarrassing kid looks into the mirror
    and grins like an idiot at his own face.
    For as long as he lives he will not be delivered
    from the stuff that he did, from his teenage mistakes.
    I can barely believe it,
    how I went and let the old school down.
    Yeah, whatever can I have been thinking of?
    Embarrassing kid, I squirm at the memory,
    try to bang down the lid on the can of worms.
    It remains pretty strange and uncomfortable territory
    where my secrets are hidden, however absurd.
    I can hardly conceal it,
    how my ashen face got drained of blood.
    Yeah, everybody can have a damn good laugh.
    Embarrassing kid, you don't know the half of it
    but I'd stake a few quid you've got gaffes of your own.
    Take a look at yourself and you might have to laugh a bit...
    but the teeth that you grit, well at least they're your own.
    And yes at the end of the day
    we get what we've given away,
    you bet: our eternal embarrassment.


    Welcome to the coils,
    they're here to set you free
    from anguish and dull toil
    And she says
    "What you see is what you get from me."
    You're welcome in her world,
    it's clear you'll never leave,
    she's a transparent kind of girl.
    And she says
    "What you see is what you get from me."

    Mr. Sands

    Soon as you like, ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats.
    In a moment there'll be a test of your endurance.
    Stay in your chairs: in the event of a dramatic pause
    please be aware nothing gets covered by insurance.
    One final thing:
    please take the trouble to read through your notes,
    it's important that you know where you've got to go to.
    Wait a moment, maybe an usherette'll show you.
    Such excitement, these are the hoops you've got to go through....
    The noises off that turn you on stage whispered from the wings,
    a stifled cough, a joke that bombs, a smouldering fuse wire string.
    When Mr. Sands is in the house the alarm bells start to ring.
    Everything's in code
    in a world we barely know
    and the truth is only slowly revealed....
    With best intentions I have strayed far off the beaten track
    and of attention I displayed a quite spectacular lack.
    Now Mr. Sands is in the house and the panic button's smacked.
    Well, Mr Sands is in the house: commotion in the stalls
    and from the gods, unruly shouts that echo round the hall
    Yes, someone's let the secret out... the safety curtain falls.
    And as I look across the stage the thought that first occurs
    is less that we have come of age and more that we're preserved
    to pass our time in different shades of ignorant reserve.
    Everything's in code
    till the moment it explodes
    we suspend belief, get ready to go
    for the playout of the show -
    here it is for all we know
    Mr Sands is always ready to roll.


    Best be careful, maintain a tight grip.
    Yes, be careful and keep the mouth zipped.
    Best be careful, there's no smoke without fire.
    Clearly you don't know where you're going
    but the beaten track behind you runs for miles.
    You've blundered through the jungle like a hyperactive child.
    Just be careful and think the thing through,
    you must be careful of what you're linked to -
    just be careful, there's no smoke without fire.
    You held your inattention
    and your standing's now as suspect as can be,
    the charges telegraphed and tracked conspiratorially.
    Just be careful of where your mouse clicks,
    you must be careful because the mud sticks -
    just be careful, there's no smoke without fire.


    You can make a matrix pattern out of almost anything,
    tracing causal imperfections in the information flow,
    counting out the footfall of processional identity.
    And the number is...
    As the primacy of digits ticks the boxes
    so the codes that they unlock begin to run
    and the synapses are snapped in to attention -
    the observer, the observed become as one,
    reeling out the numbers that are mapped in short-term memory,
    so you key them in...
    (10 6 4 3
      16   7

    All Over the Place

    So, driven to distraction
    by witless repartee
    and wittering conversation
    of deep banality,
    he seeks out interraction,
    fresh eccentricity.
    On closer observation
    nothing's all that it seems to be,
    nothing's more than it seems to be.
    He scattered himself all over the place
    while hiding behind closed doors
    and day by dull day fell more off the pace -
    a life suspended in live pause.
    He gave of himself in fractional clues,
    oblique synchronicities
    but nobody knows how alien he grew,
    how, drained away behind his open face,
    he'd lost his identity.
    Now nothing else is left behind,
    just the fallen side of the sky;
    a thousand miles away from home
    I feel the cold ghost breath fly by
    out of the dream.
    Now the image blurs
    of how we seemed
    of what we were.

Russian Peter Hammill / Van der Graaf Generator Page
Sergey Petrushanko, 1998-2024