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Gratto (USA) - 2002 - "Anakin Tumnus"
(36 min, PMM)


1.  Passage of Time 9:03
2.  Call & Response 10:29
3.  Shift 16:50

All music: by Gratto & C. Rodler.
All lyrics: by Gratto.


Gratto - piano & organ; vocals
Chris Rodler - electric & acoustic guitars
Brett Rodler - drums
Gary Madras - bass

Produced & arranged by Gratto.
Engineered by C. Rodless at "The Fortress".

Prolusion. "Anakin Tumnus" is the only album by the American band Gratto, which was active in the second half of the 1990s and, apart from composer, keyboardist, and vocalist whose last name was used as the name of the band, featured two former members of Leger De Main: the Rodler brothers (see line-up above).

Synopsis. When I saw that this output consists of three long songs, one of which is of an epic sidelong nature, I thought it should be in the vein of the classic Progressive Rock albums released at the heyday of our beloved genre and was in many ways correct in that supposition. The brainchild of contemporary musicians, "Anakin Tumnus", however, has a distinct vintage sound, which, like an excellent check vine, entrances immediately. While filled with the immediately recognizable spirit of the seventies, the music on each of the songs on the album is not only amazingly diverse, complex, and attractive, but is also so original that I wouldn't dare draw comparisons with anything I've heard before. Also, it's obvious that the band tried wittingly to refrain from repetitions, and there are very few of them on the album. Although the alternation of up-tempo, powerful, highly intricate and eclectic arrangements and slow and soft ones is typical for all of the songs on the album, Passage of Time (1) is on the whole the most intensive of them and represents Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Prog-Metal. From track to track, the stylistic and dynamic parameters of the music change slightly, yet, significantly, and the following song: Call & Response is amazingly both heavier and softer than Passage of Time. The powerful and intensive arrangements more often alternate with those consisting of exclusively acoustic textures represented by passages of piano and acoustic guitar - sometimes along with vocals that, by the way, is theatrically dramatic in character. Classical Music is certainly among Gratto's inspirations, which is 'confirmed' by most of the parts of piano on the album, and especially those performed out of the context of a full-band sound on tracks 2 and 3. Having summarized all of what I've stated here, I've come to the conclusion that the stylistics of Call & Response is a fusion of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal with elements of Classical Music. Of course, the nearly 17-minute Shift contains everything that makes its predecessors the masterworks of Classic Progressive, and not only. It is generally rich in compositionally performance features that will remind you of Classical Music, which, in this case, concerns the separately performed parts of acoustic guitar and piano and, sometimes, the band's joint arrangements as well. Besides, the intensive arrangements suddenly broke up somewhere in the middle of the song making way for a pure piano-driven Classical Music. Featuring only passages of piano, this wonderful 'suite within a suite' covers about one fourth of the track, so I'll hardly be wrong with defining the overall stylistics of Shift as a triple union of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, Prog-Metal, and Classical Music.

Conclusion. "Anakin Tumnus" is of those absolute masterpieces where the quality of music remains always stably high, and distinct originality is only one of the numerous values of them. Created by profound, inventive, by all means masterful musicians, this is definitely one of the best contemporary albums inspired by Classic Progressive of the seventies. I sincerely recommend you to check this CD out from PMM. This is a real CD, and I was very surprised when I've accidentally learned its cost.

VM: October 28, 2003

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