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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

Australian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Octopus is an album I have trouble rating, sometimes I can listen to it back to back and enjoy every second of it, and, other times I cannot stand it. It's strange but this circumstance occurs regularly with me with many albums. There is one song I can always enjoy on Octopus and that song is, A Do's Life, it brings me fond memories of my little Scottish terrier who fits the description perfectly. This is quite a strange song and the harmonies of the violin and synthesizer (I think it's a synthesizer) clash. It amazes me that these clashes still sound good, probably due to the fact that Gentle Giant are very igneous.

I suppose they got this inspiration from early 20th century composers who experimented with clashing dissonances and such. I also identify that the band went back to the Middle Ages and picked up church modes. Something which 20th centaury composers also did, they experimented with the Lydian, mixolydian, Dorian ( there are several more modes I cannon remember) and most of all the pentatonic scales. These experimentations changed the course of modern music in my opinion. Gentle Giant also use these modes.

Even some of the instrumentation is similar to that of the Middle Ages, but when comparing to actual instrumentals from the Middle ages the difference is huge. That my seem like a big contradiction but I understand it, haha. Certainly there were Troubadours around back then, so there are influences from said times. Anyway back to the album.

Octopus is a fantastic album and borders on the masterpiece level, but as I said earlier it is more enjoyable at certain times. This depends greatly on what type of prog fan you and what mood you are in. There are some subtly beautiful sections on Octopus, particularly Think of me With Kindness which is a short, but effective song. There is a wonderful horn solo at the climax of the song. Knots is a masterpiece of Gentle Giant music, the vocals on this song are of an almost inhuman quality. If you listen to closely to all the part then you will wonder how difficult it would have been to record, and to perform live. The Piano theme on Knots is very jazzy and cool, while the glockenspiel solo in the middle of the song is freakishly fast.

One thing I am certain of in this album is that the instrumentation is at the highest level in all prog. Very few bands/artists could compare to the skill of Gentle Giant, and Octopus is a very real example of how good they are. I like the fact that Gentle Giant isn't as guitar dominated as many other bands are. The guitar solo on River reminds me greatly of the song Statbrough blues by The Allman Brothers, just a thought. I have to comment on the cover picture which is very cool in my opinion; I mean an octopus in a Jar, you couldn't ask for anything more.

1. The Advent Of Panurge (4/5) 2. Raconteur Troubadour (4/5) 3. A Cry For Everyone (4/5) 4. Knots (5/5) 5. The Boys In The Band (4/5) 6. Dog's Life (5/5) 7. Think Of Me With Kindness (4/5) 8. River (5/5) Total = 35 divided by 8 (number of songs) = 4.375 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

Octopus is a tiny bit off being a five star album as I have already stated, it isn't quite there. To be correct it is exactly 0.625 off being a masterpiece according to my method of rating. Gentle Giant isn't everyone's cup of tea but if you were to start anywhere with them, I'd recommend Octopus first. It is the easiest album to listen to by the band, for me anyway. I hope this review has made sense to the readers as I have sort. droned on about nothing for a while.

Australian | 4/5 |

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