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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover

OCTOPUS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1844 ratings

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AdaCalegorn
5 stars Beneath these layers of comments, forums and samples I met a whole new universe of musicians and talented bands. One of those was Gentle Giant and the first time I've heard an entire album from them was the one with a red big cephalopod.

Being honest, I didn't know what to expect and clearly I didn't anticipate such abrupt entrance. 'Thereee? coming over Charaton Bridge' sounds with no hesitation and introduces the lead characters in Rabelaiscean' "The Advent of Panurge" it immediately send you back in time in a mediaeval world and fierce heavy and stout chivalry. Grotesque and overloaded, full of any kind of texture I only could think 'What the hell is this?' The vocal harmonies and that tentacular bass with syncopated keyboards, all turned noisy and still melodic. All of this shrieks and burst onto an explosion as sudden as its start. Since this point it's clearly impossible to define the record on a single genre or stream.

The next step remains on mediaeval lands and flourished in lighter moods as this "Raconteur Troubadour" march among fields and villages of fantastic scenery faded with melancholic churchy esque pipes. Mellotrons, snyths and guitars kind of play among the joyous lyrics, with a adventurous theatrical humor the character gets in and out in the scene with the grace of a magnificent mediaeval play.

"A Cry for Everyone" is harder and rocker than the predecessors, and clearly breaks out the atmosphere until now created. Still somehow manages to remain in the line, structurally speaking the instrumental sections still plays a funny game where the emotional spine supports those lyrics squealing existential lines a la Camus with the strength of this music.

Then comes "Knots" in the vein of what they started at "Acquiring the Taste" searching a new sound, the inter-layered tempo changes of this songs provides a new style for the upcoming material of the band. At first completely a Capella, some percussion and keyboards put some color, then the refrain blends into a much more rocker sound without missing the vocal experimentation. A marvelous and intrigue piece.

"The Boys of the Band" is another experimental exercise where each and every member of the band exploits their musical talents and skills, and that include the production n the engineer department as the play with sound effects and different layers in the recording. No instrument is played in vain, and as their parts comes one over the other the synchronicity is superb. If you would have by any chance doubt about these guys, is this piece what clarifies everything. What a bunch of master loonies.

To calm down a bit, enters "Dog's Life" a jazzy madrigal about a stray dog, they score the journey of this 'man's best friend' flirtatiously. The song resembles all those roadies' mates of the band members.

In an unusual piece for the band discography, here's dropped a ballad, a romantic ballad, "Think of Me with Kindness" holds the epic proportion of progressive rock and still manages to approach into a soft commercial sound while singing about a very british love farewell, at times sounds almost as Bowie's melancholic vocals. Then of course, those vocals layers interactions. Lovely indeed.

So there appears the eighth opus of the 'Octo-opus' album. "River" metaphorically speaking about the music's floods and streams. In a hard rock and variant tempo mood, the song goes from tune to tune, flirting with psychedelia, folk, jazz and hard rock. There's place for everyone to show up. As abrupt this record begun, as abrupt this ended. A sudden silent shuts the strings and without notice the game is over.

If this cannot be taken as conceptual album by any kind, as well, surely is one of the most mysterious and intricate works of the band. You may need to take a good new deep breath and submerge again in the articulated tentacles again, and again, and again...

AdaCalegorn | 5/5 |

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