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Gentle Giant - Acquiring the Taste CD (album) cover

ACQUIRING THE TASTE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 1014 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars While it's always nice to try out a 'new' band, I really had some doubts when it came to Gentle Giant. But with all the praise they seem to get around here I decided to plunge into uncharted territory. If King Crimson sometimes appear to be inaccessible, this is a band that can take up the fight.

Complex arrangements, vocally and musically, with dashes of a breathtaking amount of instruments requires utmost attention from the listener, especially if one has the ambition to grasp the whole load of nuances, counterpoint melodies and classical parts of the album. It's surprising indeed to actually find a bluesy guitar in the mix, especially on Plain Truth, a clear statement of the band's past. Altogether, it's both amazing and frightening when you sit back and realise the brutality of the members shared musical knowledge and talent, and how that actually translates into incredibly focused, dense and pin-point compositions compared to much of the material the colleagues of King Crimson puts out. How do you perform this live?

Sticking to KC comparison, where their experimentalism often points forward into uncharted territory, Gentle Giant instead tackles much of the music past. There's room for touches of baroque, medieval pipes, sinister modern classical compositions and what I can only categorise as traditional British songs. Not being more than vaguely familiar with the boundaries and trademarks of all of the above, it's something that still shines through as moderately correct. You get the point. But naturally there's place for the rock in 'progressive rock' as well. Thick guitar and bass catches you unaware at times, and so do great solos and the loved wall-of-sound organ. Gentle Giant is truly eclectic.

It's a darker effort altogether, somehow invoking images from Edgar Allan Poe's novels, as there often is a disturbing and fore-boding feeling to the songs. Gentle Giant has a way of telling stories, captivating, and a great asset to accompany the music. But it never tips over the edge, and in the end, copious instrumental onslaught considered, it remains a quite subtle achievement.

Already a favourite of mine, this album isn't flawless. It gets just a little too much! Self-indulgence is an ugly word, but so far the only ones in the same league as GG is...ELP. And just as with them, the intricacy, pompous arrangements and the will to do their own thing is an exhausting experience for a listener, even if it gives me great pain admitting it. I enjoy this album most when listening to one song at the time, now and then, or when I'm in my most restless or curious mood. Some albums aren't just made to comfort us, but actually demands something in return.

Effort, and perhaps a little spirit of adventure.

//LinusW

LinusW | 4/5 |

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