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Gentle Giant - In A Glass House CD (album) cover

IN A GLASS HOUSE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.35 | 1132 ratings

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Draith
5 stars 5/5! One of THE progressive masterpieces of all time! I have to say, In A Glass House is without any doubt the essential Gentle Giant masterpiece that all progressive fans should put in their collections ASAP. I don't typically give out fives like candy but reserve them for killer albums like this. It is by far their most ambitious album, indeed probably one of the THE ambitious albums on this site. It is almost perfectly balanced, composed, and produced. Each song is so different from all of the others on this album (and in some cases from anything the band had ever done before - which is saying A LOT) that the album abroad is neither overly repetitive nor overly random and scattered (for lack of a better word). The transitions within songs and between songs is the best of almost any album, at times both smooth and abrupt, and charming in both cases. The musical genus of this band definitely hit its apex with this very album, and as usual, they are certainly not afraid to show of their incredible multi-instrumentalist prowess. In almost no other album is music used so effectively in this way, this goal - to portray to the human mind ideas that cannot be expressed in words but must be expressed. The utilization of stereo sound techniques as well as sound effects with the microphones has never been closer to perfect in so many senses. Even listening to many other Gentle Giant albums, which are all very good, none of them come close to topping this album.

I stumbled across this album after being familiarized with Gentle Giant by Three Friends. At first, as with almost every progressive masterpiece that I encounter, I didn't know what to make of it, especially since I was quite new to prog rock at the time. Certainly the shattering of glass in the opening seconds caught me off guard... the sound of breaking glass is just so... invigorating! And now it is one of my most treasured albums in my collection. You want the best of Gentle Giant, IT'S RIGHT HERE IN THIS ALBUM! I don't typically review albums song by song but with this incredible album definitely deserves it.

1. The Runaway As I mentioned earlier, the album opens with the shattering of glass, which becomes a rhythm in 6/4, and what an awesome rhythm it is! Occasionally I'd pop it in the stereo loud, and the big crashing sound of glass would give my mom a scare thinking that there was know a huge mess of glass on the kitchen floor; it was quite hilarious really. The song itself has probably the best use of synthesizer/guitar interactions and has a certain atmosphere of sharpness to it. Indeed it is one of the more likable tracks for most non-proggers, not because it is less progressive than other songs but because the singing style is overall more clean and unobtrusive than some of the later ones. And the album is just getting started.

2. An Inmate's Lullaby One of the softer and more subtle songs of this album, the lyrics of the second track is from the perspective of an apparently handicapped person in a mental institute, and the music is incredibly successful in portraying this concept musically, especially the microphone effects in the opening vocal part. It is made with all percussive instruments many backing vocal parts. It almost sounds like music a baby would like (hence inmate's (the handicapped person's) lullaby) especially with the use of the vibraphone, a trademark in Gentle Giant's music now made for higher purposes than a showy solo. The sound utilization in this song is probably the most compact and powerful of anything Gentle Giant has ever made.

3. Way of Life This song is awesome from the word Go! No, literally, the song starts with a person yelling the word go. Anyways this is definitely one of the catchier more lively songs on the album. The bass play a very dominant role as the foundation for much of the song along with the synthesizers, and proves that Ray Shulman is one of the most underrated bassists in history. It is balanced quite well between which instrument is the most prominent in different parts, and introduces some dissonance between the vocal parts and other parts of the song (as the next song does as well).

4. Experience One of my favorite songs on the album (along with the last one of course), the instrumentation itself begins very... odd, even compared to many Gentle Giant songs, with a reverberative atmosphere, layered with a sharp synthesizer on top of the mix (forgive me for sounding like I'm describing a desert). The song definitely picks up, leading to a part with three of the member playing recorders along with a violin, one of the best sections in the entire album. The chorus is probably one of the most wonderfully obnoxious singing the band has ever had in their music. The recorder section followed by the synthesizer is also used to end the song out, which is executed with the soft dimming of organ chords.

5. A Reunion A nice short classically based song of soft and sweet sounding violins, and guitar arpeggios. It really sounds like a reunion of people with memories together long past, or something of the sort. A tid-bit of a song that only adds to an already incredible album.

6. In A Glass House Ah, the one and only album title track. This is by far one of my favorite progressive compositions of all time. Easily Gentle Giant's best written song ever, the vocal parts, the instrumentation, the balance, the prog hard rock awesomeness of the chorus, and what's more the very ending of the album that combines 2 seconds of every song in the album, then a smash of shattering glass echoing to end the album.

I recommend this album to everyone who is at all interested in Gentle Giant, eclectic prog, or anyone who like progressive music at all. Easily Gentle Giant's best written and produced albums, and one of the best albums of all progressive rock history.

Draith | 5/5 |

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