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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1844 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars "Octopus" is a fitting title, since the band is playing here like they've got extra arms. I have yet to hear any GG album so skillfully wrought as "Octopus"; if you're approaching the band from the outside, this is definitely the right appetizer. When describing the band's music, words like "medieval", "madrigal", "complex" and "counterpoint" usually find their way into the text, and all of them would apply here. But the album's real achievement is delivering all of these qualities in a remarkably soft sell. They're not out to dazzle you, their genius is simply a natural outcropping of the individuals involved. "The Advent of Panurge" sets the stage for this, introducing all manner of music in as natural and organic a setting as possible so that listeners don't gag on the amount of substance crammed into a single song. Elsewhere, the humorously bleak "A Cry For Everyone" (which seems to poke a little fun at brooding acts like BLACK SABBATH and JETHRO TULL) and playful experiments like "Knots" and "Dog's Life" reveal a band maintaining a sense of humor in a genre (progressive rock) known for being self-consciously serious. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention how good Derek SHULMAN's voice sounds on this record; Derek can sometimes come across as an acquired taste, but he's as smooth as butter on "Octopus". New drummer John WEATHERS also adds some wonderful touches, like the xylophone solo on "Knots."

Coming on the heels of having listened to GENESIS' Trespass, I'm reminded of how the word "sublime" is overused in musical criticism. To call "Octopus" "sublime" is perhaps to miss the point, since the band works hard to keep their heavenly arrangements earthbound.

This is quintessential GENTLE GIANT, inspired at every turn, their sticky genius on display from any angle.

daveconn | 5/5 |


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