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Octopie - The Adventure of Harry and Walrus Kane CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.91 | 16 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars OCTOPIE is a very skilled Finnish prog quartet with an epic-oriented debut album and an excellent EP preceding this new release. Now they're presenting a full-bred theme album telling a story, or a "rock opera" if you like, in the tradition of Tommy, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Snow (though only in 45 minutes unlike those famous double albums). It's about rather surreal and obscure adventures of a protagonist, young man named Harry, who meets a talking walrus and is taken into oceanic adventures crowded with disco pirates, sirens and a whale. All this happens only in Harry's imagination if I'm getting it at all. There's a 24-page supplement with the lyrics and coloured drawings. Well, to be honest, I'd rather ignore the story and take this primarily as a musical work. Which is not to say that the story format wouldn't be essential part of the artistic impression, I'm just not that interested in trying to make much sense of the perplexing plot. Perhaps it's not even meant to be very deep and meaningful?

There are thirteen tracks of relatively short length (six of them under three minutes), but the whole has a feel of a singular epic. In the end it's just a matter of choice if the parts are separate tracks on the CD or sections of longer entities. This album is definitely meant to be listened in its entirety, so that's not an important question here, but I appreciate the track separation: makes it easier to follow, and to skip the irritating falsetto funk of 'Disco Pirates', the only track I don't like.

Vocals of Tom Tamlander (who also plays flute and bass) could be generally criticized as the weak link of this band, as they can be quite over-theatrical (poor man's Freddie Mercury) and amateurish-sounding especially on higher notes, but on this album they function mostly very well. Happily this is not a rock opera in the sense where the multitude of words would be used as a vehicle of narrative. That is, there's a good balance between sung and instrumental parts, and on more delicate sections such as 'A Theme from the Past' the emotional, wailing vocals don't get over the top so easily. The third track 'Into the Vortex' continues the strong beginning of the album with a great, atmospheric instrumental section starring guitar, and later after irritatingly shouty vocal lines there's another solo, this time for a Moog.

The music has a distinctive prog edge that sometimes reminds me of classics such as Thick As A Brick (JETHRO TULL probably being among Octopie's influences, especially for the Barre-like electric guitar). 'Whale Song' has some ZEPPELIN-like Heavy Prog ballad feel. 'Blast Off' is a fast instrumental with a virtuotic jazz-rock approach. 'Child Planet' with its choral parts is very quirky in the vein of QUEEN, 10cc and KLAATU (Hope, 1977), and the following 'Hymn for the Lonely People' is a calm and beautiful piano-centred little acoustic piece in which Tamlander's tender vocals work surprisingly well.

Yes, indeed this album is charmingly eclectic and musically ambitious in a good way. There are some less pleasant moments but that is easily forgiven. The musical competence in this band is among the best in today's Finnish prog, and the bravery of taking risks of sounding too pretentious is always better than doing everything the safest and the most common way. Applause!

Matti | 4/5 |


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