Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GIANT SQUID more reviews!

That must be the main slogan used by the artists here to fully explore their creativity. The result is a mesmerizing album that explores all areas between the diverse extremes of post-hardcore, eclectic prog and ethereal pop music. I admit, sometimes it's difficult to follow what they are up to. It's a concept album based on a graphic novel from front man Aaron John Gregory. The album takes you from one scene to another and you are bound to tumble from one surprise into another.

It sure takes a couple of listens to fully grasp the range of styles on parade here. Aaron Gregory has a versatile voice with a range between Tom Waits gruffness to an expressive emotional wail that fans of Hammill and VDGG will probably appreciate. One moment you're in Isis atmospheres, then again in Neurosis walls of sound, next it's a gentle violin with the light female voices from Jackie Perez Gratz. Also Anneke Van Giersbergen performs on one track. (Well she's all over the place these days so that's no surprise.) She does a great performance on Sevengill, a bizarre duet with Aaron that is exemplary for this album's eccentricity.

The rich diversity of this album might be the very reason it has taken Giant Squid more then a year to get a record deal: it must be just impossible to market. It's certainly not metal. It has post-metal influences but most of the songs are very quiet and melancholic, almost folksy in a way. It's way too weird for hardcore youngsters, too ambitious for alternative rock fans and it's not prog in any traditional sense of the world. However it might appeal to prog audiences for its eclectic range of styles, the wide array of instruments (trumpet, oboe, flute, violin) and the concept album angle. We always like that don't we!?

I've decided to be a bit more difficult and demanding before handing out 5 stars or they'll stop meaning anything. But the 4 stars here are solid.

We should certainly thank Translation Loss records for supporting a commercial release of this wonderful album (almost a year since it was finished and the band distributed a number of copies themselves). It's become a nice packaging with some inventive artwork, different from the sea star picture here. It's a mutated hand with eye-sockets as fingers now. Could have been a Gentle Giant artwork I'd say. It's no coincidence this band is called Giant Octopus isn't it?

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