Giant Squid - Minoans
Translation Loss Records
Progressive Epic Sludge
8 songs (43'20")
Release year: 2014
Official Website, Translation Loss Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

If assigning Album of the Month tag is only fit for the latest (or at least the current year) releases, then I am remiss with Giant Squid’s latest Minoans. But I will abuse my veteran status with MR to nevertheless forego the rules and assign this label to the album in the hopes of elevating Minoans to peoples’ attention.

I am glad that my colleagues have been giving coverage to Giant Squid, this California to Texas and now back to California band. I would have done so myself, but by the time I come around with Metridium Field or The Ichthyologist the review is already posted. Yet from the very beginning of my experiences with Giant Squid things have been almost invariably clicking, and I enjoyed their brand of thought provoking progressive sludge, not to mention the presence of unusual instruments, thematic lyrics and standout cello by Jackie Perez Gratz (Neurosis, Grayceon). So I guess it is my turn not to let Minoans slip the public eye.

On this album Giant Squid are going to explore the theme of catastrophic downfall of the Minoan civilization which flourished on the island of Crete before being wiped out by a tsunami generated after a massive volcano eruption or earthquake, or so archeologists and geologists think. Either way, a powerful sea dominating nation was first brought to its knees by some sort of natural disaster, quickly followed by the invasion of rowdier and meaner tribes from the main Greek peninsula. Nevertheless, Minoan civilization has left a cultural and archeological mark on the development of Greece and many city-island states in the Aegean Sea.

Minoans continues Giant Squid exploring dreamy atmospheric drone, now with the large dose of epic and somewhat psychedelic Greek-tinged melodies. If I did not know of the band’s origin I would have thought they are from Greece, since those melodies are so profound and authentic. Thera, Sir Arthur Evans, Sixty Foot Waves and Mycenaens provide perfect examples of those completely enthralling passages, where Giant Squid masterfully unfold fantastic polyphony of guitars, piano, Jackie’s cello and “not with this world” airy vocal layering. The harmonies on Minoans are almost never off-key (like they were experimented with on The Ichthyologist), and provide almost a soothing relaxing atmosphere, even if the subject matter of 60 ft tall waves in entirely threatening. Tremolo bouzouki lead (Sir Arthur Evans) and prominent cello inserts (Sixty Foot Waves, Thera, marching notes in the opener Minoans) is what further distinguishes Giant Squid from the drone/sludge crowd.

On Minoans Giant Squid further surprised me with their storytelling abilities. Whereas earlier (Metridium Field) the songs were a not so cohesive collection meandering somewhat in place, on Minoans the flow within and between songs is impeccable. The opener brings you in slowly, nothing foresees trouble, until foreboding marching cello notes ratchet up the pressure. Sir Arthur Evans is a story of a methodical painstaking archeological dig, gloomy and tired, with careful synth touches in the margins. Palace of Knossos is rich, ancient and decadent with a heavy downtrodden doom feel. You can’t call Mycenaens brute, even if its prim and proper chords lead down the path of inevitable fate. And the darker coffee shop lounge ballad The Pearl and the Parthenon does not seem out of place either.

If I had any beef with Minoans it would have been that it seems short, cut off unexpectedly by the sudden end of Phaistos Disc without really coming through a culmination point of sorts. But the 40+ minutes Giant Squid does provide for your listening pleasure are can’t miss in my opinion, if progressive layered music is something you enjoy.

Killing Songs :
Thera, Sir Arthus Evans, Sixty Foot Waves were my favorite, but there is not a weak track here
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Giant Squid that we have reviewed:
Giant Squid - Cenotes reviewed by Khelek and quoted 86 / 100
Giant Squid - Metridium Fields reviewed by Khelek and quoted 77 / 100
Giant Squid - The Ichthyologist reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
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