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Griot - Gerald CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.88 | 38 ratings

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4 stars Full Disclosure: I was asked to proofread the "Gerald" booklet and edit the language for readability.

GRIOT is a progressive rock band formed by João Pascoal and Sérgio Ferreira in 2014, adding vocalist Nuno Aleluia to round out the band.

Musicians: João Pascoal ? Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Programming, Composing (tracks 1,2,3,4 and 5) Sérgio Ferreira ? Drums, Percussion, Composing (tracks 1,2,3,4 and 5) Nuno Aleluia ? Vocals (tracks 1,3,4 and 5)


Plus there are additional guest musicians adding symphonic textures throughout this musical journey: "It's an immersive journey about {Gerald} and something more, something grand, something new..."

I remember first bumping into GRIOT, seeing a teaser video for "Gerald", and being intrigued by the musical skills and craftsmanship on display.

Not only musicianship, but also artistry, since Sergio added some of the art work, and the text of the booklet with the concept and story-line, added interest.

The music itself falls into an eclectic, jazz/fusion, and symphonic territory. Actual and programed strings are added, and the saxophone brings jazzy textures as well.

According to the booklet, Gerald is a simple farmer who becomes restless and disillusioned by his life. The encounters of his ensuing travels form the basis for this quest, searching for something greater.

Nuno brings a youthful melancholy and soul to propel the narrative, and impeccable instrumentation from Joao and Sergio, plus guests, makes the music delectable and outstanding.

It's no small task to coordinate other musicians and vocalists into something resembling a cohesive unit, but GRIOT have succeeded.

Especially admirable is the way the music and lyrics are germane one unto another, intertwining and complementing the other.

Then there's the clarinet on track 3, "Into the Fold (Chapter III)". Although it's difficult to pick a favorite track- since each track relates to and with each other track- this one is a strong contender.

There are dissonances, lush symphonic passages, wistful lyrics and vocals, soaring guitar lines, and effortless-seeming time changes.

...But then the atmosphere darkens and the music gets heavier:

"The bleakness, It saddens me... "The Changeless", It blinds thee... My brain has casted me away, The path is not over. A new future I envision Because after all "Home" is my lover!"

We hear foreboding, menace, with a background of chaotic uncertainty.

...And closing with the epic "Fadeaway (Chapter 5)", starting with gentle piano and violin, and developing through the bass line and then growing with ebbs and flows with flute-led passages, bass-driven syncopations, precise and tasteful percussion...with the lyrical realization that what Gerald sought may actually be...back home?

For me, this is an excellent and unusual debut by an amalgam of bright young musicians, bringing us into the storyline, and making outstanding music that will stand the test of time, with assurance, and with soulful verve.

SteveConrad | 4/5 |


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