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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover

OCTOPUS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1299 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Possibly the best album by Gentle Giant, which is possibly the greatest band of what is possibly the greatest era of prog music. So, this is possibly the greatest album of all time. Hard call to make, but it is undeniably one that should not be ignored.

With this album, we have a wonderful mix of the weird and the wild, the crazy and the calm. I suppose that's why the name Gentle Giant is supposed to induce such a paradox. Because here, the band plays whatever they want to, and they create some of the most oddly energetic tracks right next to some of the most beautiful songs to be found on a record. This the first true taste of the rock side of the band, drawing casually away from the bluesy leanings of previous releases by the band. Terrifyingly intense vocal harmonies drive a bunch of songs, with seemingly impossible rounds and other sorts of vocal interplays that I have no clue what the names are. And even still, the music is not lost. This is not some terribly complex album that will take you years to digest. Many dig straight in on their first listen, while others might take a couple of tries. Even still, considering what it takes to be rated really highly on this site, I think this is one of the more accessible and yet still deep albums to garner such a consistent and high rating. After this album, the band focuses less on avant-garde sounds and samples, but here we have a band of nerds in full techno-glory when they want to be.

The album opens with The Advent of Panurge, a song that right away showcases the band's complex style of composition. However, above the complicated nature of the instruments, there rises a catchy vocal melody. The album moves on with the mostly acoustic minstrel-feel Raconteur Troubadour (a wicked title to type, let me tell you). This might be the weakest track on the album, though that's still not very much of a detraction from it. The music then segues into the energetic rock tune, A Song for Everyone. This is a particularly catchy song, somewhat less complicated and proggy compared to the first two, but still is a wonderful track to rock out to if that's your thing. It might not really be a song for everyone, exactly, but it's certainly a song that more people would be able to enjoy were they not so into prog. And then, the first side ends with the mind-bending track Knots, featuring some of the most complicated vocal parts short of classical opera. The point and counterpoint in the vocals here are truly inspiring, and when the band pulls together for the chorus, it sounds truly remarkable. Also, the drums in the finale blow my mind every time. The drummer's got fast hands, let me tell you.

The second side kicks off with the peppy instrumental The Boys in the Band. Very much a fun and semi-complex song from the band, it moves the album forward fairly effectively. Coming off the tails of that, though, is the only contender with Raconteur Troubadour (I didn't want to have to type it twice, but oh well) for the weakest album here. It's a heartwarming sort of tune about a dog (surprise), and the music is pretty average by Gentle Giant standards. Oh well, a perfect album has yet to be found, as far as I'm concerned, though Octopus is rather close. The next track more than makes up for this lack, as Think of Me with Kindness brings out a heartwrenching melody with a single vocal that has never seemed stronger. This is a softer song, the softest on this album, and it really moves in a different way from the rest of the music. Finally, comes the violin and guitar rocker River, reminding me somewhat to something like Kansas, though it is in truth nothing at all like a Kansas song. There is a wild drum solo in the middle jam session, showcasing more of those impossibly fast hands, before segueing into a strong guitar solo. The album closes with a bang.

If you like prog at all, buy this. It's a wonderful place to start with this band. The complicated nature is sure to impress and probably entice almost anyone, from a fan of Zappa to one of Yes to one of Cynic to one of Dream Theater. As strong of a recommendation as I can give goes here.

LiquidEternity | 5/5 |

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