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Eclectic Prog • Portugal

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Griot biography
GRIOT is an Eclectic Prog band from Leiria, Portugal, formed in 2014 by João PASCOAL (guitars, bass, keyboards) and Sérgio FERREIRA (drums, percussion). Later on, Nuno ALELUIA a member of Esfera, joined the band as lead singer.

Their conceptual debut album Gerald, released in 2016, is very mellow and diverse, although really cohesive work. It carefully blends many different Prog genres, from Symphonic Prog (mainly from the extensive use of keyboards, string instruments and flute), to ambient and psychedelic excursions, some Jazz Fusion (check out the first and last track) and Crossover Prog (particularly in the vocal delivery), but also moments that show their heavier side.


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3.88 | 38 ratings

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GRIOT Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gerald by GRIOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 38 ratings

Griot Eclectic Prog

Review by SteveConrad

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.

 Gerald by GRIOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 38 ratings

Griot Eclectic Prog

Review by 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!

 Gerald by GRIOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 38 ratings

Griot Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars It's always exciting to see young bands emerging playing all kinds of progressive rock styles, and it's even better when they're displaying admirable technical and melodic skills from the get-go, putting out superb works right from the very start of their careers. Portuguese trio Griot, formed in 2014 and having connections to crossover band Esfera, tick so many boxes, incorporating everything from symphonic prog, heavier bursts, ambitious orchestration and lightly jazzy touches, all topped off with strong accessible melodies and sleek vocals in their eclectic mix, plus their teasing little 33-minute debut album `Gerald' is a concept work to boot - nothing like the confidence of working in a proudly self-indulgent proggy tradition on launch!

Indexed into five chapters, opener `The Drive' is frequently up-tempo thanks to Sérgio Ferreira's snappy nimble drumming and multi-instrumentalist João Pascoal's dreamy chiming guitars and pumping bass building a gentle jazzy momentum. There's plenty of eerie washes of electronics, deliriously peppy synth noodling and sparkling piano that moves between sprightly and ruminative, and Nuno Aleluia's superior English vocals are crisp and soar with plenty of emotion. The first instrumental `Through the Haze' twitches with programmed beats, trickling electronics and heavier dramatic surges. Some elegant and thoughtful late-night saxophone trills quickly remind of `Dark Side.../Wish You Were Here'-era Pink Floyd, and the whole piece is capped off with subtle sweeping orchestration that never overwhelms or becomes bombastic (and some little fleeting pockets of Mellotron and real flute in unison sound lovely!).

`Into the Fold' throws in everything from intelligent striking clarinet, zippy Moog Lines and playful flute leading to a grand climax, and damned if the gentle funkiness and smooth lead and backing vocals wouldn't have sounded out of place of a New Jack Swing album circa late 80's/early 90's ? NOT an insult! `The Curtain Falls' is a vocally rich and dexterous ballad that grows in strength with soothing orchestration and a sudden energetic rush in the final minute, but the group leave their most ambitious work until closer `Fadeaway (Chapter V)'. Brisk jazzy piano, sweeping strings that soar with grace, chunky bass crunches, glistening ambient interludes and colourful psychedelic washes weave around skilfully implemented reprises of past vocal themes, and there's even a fiery bluesy electric guitar solo in the final minutes that holds a little bit of unexpected bite!

A great plus is that the Griot fellas here never sound like they're imitating any better known band, only properly influenced instead to carry their own original ideas forward. The band clearly calling in favours from a bunch of friends and musical acquaintances to fill out the disc with orchestral grandiosity in several moments also makes the album sound suitably sophisticated and lavish - no slumming it with emulated orchestral synths here, thank you very much! Perhaps the short running time is a little disappointing, but think of the disc as a complete suite of music that you might find closing the end of a fuller prog album!

Regardless of how you view it, this debut proves to be extremely addictive, easy to replay and hugely enjoyable due to the tastefulness of the instrumental qualities and the breezy crisp vocals, and if this bright young band of prog-rock hopefuls are already displaying this much potential, imagine how good they'll be with a few more years behind them?

Four stars for a terrific first effort, and bonus points for the lovely cover art and story/booklet that comes with initial copies of the CD!

 Gerald by GRIOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 38 ratings

Griot Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Storytelling about the human condition in the Neo-Prog way with a jazzy-pop-fusion delivery style. Reminds me of some of the current young prog bands from Italy--like UNREAL CITY and INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE or several of JOHANNES LULEY's projects as well as the 2014 debut album from I AND THOU, Speak. Very melodic and simple; showing tremendous potential.

1. "The Drive (Chapter I)" (5:15) a nearly-flawless bit of ear-candy to open and entice the listener into this interesting and pretty album. The vocal does not even enter until the final minute. A beautiful voice has Nuno Aleluia--not unlike that of JOHANNES LULEY. (10/10)

2. "Through the Haze (Chapter II)" (4:27) is a spacious, almost jazz lounge sounding instrumental song with nice saxophone singing the lead over some clean, spacious soft rock (using some borrowed riffs). (8.5/10)

3. "Into the Fold (Chapter III)" (6:37) sounds a lot like a 1970s ELOY song. The vocals are emotional if somewhat strained. More saxophone (this time soprano) over a STEELY DAN-like section that is followed by an odd little organ, synth, guitar weave. Smooth and (8.5/10)

4. "The Curtain Falls (Chapter IV)" (5:37) a simple and fairly straightforward song but probably my favorite song on the album. Great TOTO-like vocal and nice keyboard layering in the vocal sections. I don't much care for the staccato C section, though. (8.5/10)

5. Fadeaway (Chapter V)" (10:34) opens with piano and bird-like violin flitting around in the background (in a "Lark's Ascending" kind of way). String section soon joins in and completes the 75-second intro. Bass chords, jazzy drum support and piano soon establish the foundation for the next section. It's gorgeous! Strings and electric guitar join in and then the song shifts into more soft rock format. Funky bass with syncopated drums and keys in the fourth minute, shifting to flute-led full-orchestra section as a segues into the delicate vocal section. Beautiful in a BRUCE SOORD/PINEAPPLE THIEF/I AM THOU/JOHANNES LULEY way. The seventh minute progresses into a support section for synth and then guitar soli. Simple, spacious, but, unfortunately, neither of the soli are anything very exciting or exceptional. The vocal and music supporting the vocal sections are really the highlights of this song--though as a ten-minute long tapestry, it is very well constructed--it flows very nicely. (9/10)

My one overlying complaint of this is that the drumming often sounds like a show of military rudiments and the mix of all of João's instruments could be blended a little better. Great, clean sound and very nice, competent compositions and performances; perhaps a bit too clean or antiseptic. The music here is very pleasant, melodic, pretty, but I have found, too easily it loses my attention and fades into become background music.

4.5 stars marked down for its brevity (32 minutes making it more of an EP).

Thanks to sagichim for the artist addition.

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