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Griot - Gerald CD (album) cover

GERALD

Griot

 

Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 36 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars "Gerald" is the conceptual debut release from Portuguese group Griot, and a true testament to the power of brevity in progressive music.

Barely surpassing the 30 minute mark, it's hard to believe that Griot is able to pull off their coming-of-age narrative as effectively as they do. But, sure enough, this short-but-sweet piece of work in 5 "chapters" manages to deliver some truly compelling storytelling. And even if the lyrical narrative isn't your cup of tea, and it certainly isn't for me - while I respect a cohesive concept or storyline in an album, it certainly doesn't make or break my enjoyment of it - there's all sorts of instrumental goodness going on here that should interest you. In addition to its superb production, there's a great assortment of musical territory covered in "Gerald" that should appease fans of any prog style.

As others have mentioned, the style of "Gerald" is surprisingly diverse given its brevity and cohesion. While the structural bulk and "feel" of the album lie primarily in crossover territory, with a poppy and melodic sensibility, the arrangements are sophisticated enough to incorporate a whole slew of prog goodies. Symphonic keyboard washes and flute lines, smooth jazz fusion sax soloing, slight psychedelia, all seamlessly blending together, never out of place. And the instrumental performances are sublime! The core trio are all competent and professional players, with very tasteful performances, and the extended crew of guest musicians all fit into the mix very nicely. I particularly enjoy the saxophone and clarinet solos from Andy Panayi and Paulo Bernardino, respectively; top notch performances right there. And all of these instrumental collaborations end up piecing together to give "Gerald" an incredible atmosphere; a very light, urban, nocturnal vibe that reflects the album cover quite well.

While others have reservations over the short length of the album, it doesn't bother me at all. Modern prog albums have a tendency to drag on far longer than they need to, but "Gerald" never overstays its welcome. It may leave you thirsting for a little more, but as long as Griot has a follow-up album planned, then I can't complain. The only thing that prevents me from giving "Gerald" a masterpiece rating, because the compositions really are flawless, is that the production is perhaps a bit too smooth. This is a problem that I've also had with mid 70's Pink Floyd; I feel that the music, crystal clear as it is, can tend to feel a little distant and sterile. Even with that considered, this is still a stellar album and it has certainly one my 70's-centric self over as a fan. Check 'em out!

Magnum Vaeltaja | 4/5 |

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