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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1000 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars While not quite as enjoyable to me as some other Gentle Giant releases, this album carries a lot of progressive weight, and is one I can always rely on when I am in the mood for something wildly eccentric. Every track is memorable, even if they require a bit of time and focus to appreciate.

"Just the Same" The snapping of fingers kicks off the album. Piano and electric guitar bounce off one another until Shulman belts his first line. The melody and lyrics are extremely catchy. Initially, the instrumental section is very spacey, with some atmospheric keyboards and uncomplicated guitar work, but then jumps into one of the quirkiest sections Gentle Giant has ever recorded.

"On Reflection" A relative of "Knots," featuring complex a capella vocal arrangements with several countermelodies. The instrumentation initially focuses on percussion, but brings in piano and strings also. The chaos fades out as Minnear comes into the spotlight to sing one of the loveliest moments of the album. The more beautiful vocal section is interrupted briefly by a more forceful vocal styling. The final part of the song is Gary Green, Kerry Minnear, Ray Shulman, and the gang using their respective instruments to interpret the multipart vocal section the piece began with.

"Free Hand" A quaintly eerie piano serves as the basis for the guitar and bass to work over before a boisterous Shulman jumps in with those lines every Gentle Giant fan knows. It features a somewhat jazzy psychedelic instrumental middle section, during which the bass plays the central role.

"Time to Kill" Awkward percussion and loud guitars make this one of the most avant-garde things Gentle Giant ever performed, at least until Shulman sings, and even then, the guitar work brings it back to that genre. One of the main riffs in the song sounds like it inspired one particular small section in Kansas's song, "Paradox." Minnear sings at his deepest with the bass.

"His Last Voyage" A lone bass introduces this pleasant pieces of music. Minnear's voice is distant and almost sacrosanct-sounding, as though he were a lonely monk intoning in an large cathedral. While retaining Minnear's faraway vocals, the piece abruptly shifts into something closer to avant-garde jazz with loud piano and Green's guitar run through a wah pedal. The whole band uses the introduction as a springboard back into the quieter lyrical section.

"Talybont" Full of medieval instrumentation, this terse instrumental is a favorite of mine. The percussion is apt, as are the other instruments.

"Mobile" Floating somewhere between Celtic and Cajun, much of this song consists of fiddling and acoustic guitar, except of course where Shulman is belting the words. It's a jaunty track, and highly pleasing.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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