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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover

OCTOPUS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1744 ratings

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steamhammeralltheway
5 stars Octopus is a little mysterious. It largely holds the same song types as previous releases, but there is something more finished and scintillating on this album. From start to finish, it is pure bliss to listen to.

I have this LP and have long admired the opener, 'The Advent of Panurge.' Soft accapella vocal punctuated by funky piano. This is so spirited that any melodic recycling can be forgiven. Then a heartier vocal section ensues, accentuated by a brass instrument like a trombone. It's for endearing moments like this that I embrace Gentle Giant.

'Raconteur, Troubadour' is pure whimsy, a violin rendering it ravishing and a piano soaking it with pizzazz. The instrumental section brings to mind the Renaissance and is like a wall of sound. Gone is the contrived instrumentation of past efforts. This only steps up yet another notch into a conversation between a very soothing and seamless brass piece of some sort and a piano and violin. Very high on the warm fuzzy scale.

'A cry for Everyone' represents Giant's raucous side. This is just a completely seductive rock massage. Giant has attempted this before, but it all comes together here. I have never heard a bass guitar add such an undercurrent of movement. The virtuosity on this song is enthralling.

'Knots' is recycled melody for sure. I think Giant had this on both Acquiring and Taste and 3 Friends. They usually include one of these semi-atonal contrapuntal accapella numbers replete with the silly vibes. Why it works here and not there is anyone's guess. I truly think Octopus is a work of much greater finesse. When the piano steps in in equally atonal fashion, it does continue on more melodically. Before the band was taking baby steps; they're now speaking in complete sentences. There is a certain completeness and fullness not seen prior on the more challenging, ambitious work.

'The Boys in the Band' is different. It starts with a laugh and a tossed coin tossed rolling, all its spinning carefully captured. I have been listening to this one a long time too and it is brilliant for sure. It is complex, almost indescribable: a rapid cascade of piano, krumhorn drums, bass, synthesizer, an avant garde excursion with all the fanfare of the Renaissance and little touches that glue it in one's brain far more than any of the band's other atonal offerings.

'Dog's Life' is a spine-tingling ballad, as traditional as some of the others are off the wall. It's my favorite off here and one of the songs that planted me in camp Giant to begin with. Skillfully situated piano, violin, krumhorn and 12 string make this a classic for all time. The echoey harmonies and vibes section is nothing that the band hasn't offered before, but here it's so vibrant.

'Think of me with Kindness' is also more conservative and one of my favorite Giant songs for a long time now. Piano and trombone, the two featured instruments here rank among those I like to see least in rock. Gentle Giant can work absolutely anything into the mix.

'River,' the album closer has long been a fave of mine too. Coming up with words to describe this very unusual music is quite difficult. Suffice to say that it is beautiful, absolutely so. Just see for yourself.

steamhammeralltheway | 5/5 |

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