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Grimalkin — The Drifting Sailer
(Lizard 5490052, 1997, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-05-01

The Drifting Sailer Cover art

A five-piece from the Naples area of Italy, Grimalkin offers an often spacy, heavily symphonic neo-progressive sound punctuated with grand eruptions of soaring tonal color provided by guitar, keys, and an under-used sax, clarinet, and wind-synth player. Plenty of Hackett-like guitar work, and a variety of keyboard sounds to hold the listener's interest. But more than anything, it's the nonstandard compositional style, the slowly building crescendos and the contrasts between the delicate and heavy parts that make Grimalkin's sound so special — definitely on a par with the best of the neo-prog genre. Instrumentally oriented, what vocals there are sung in English and provided by keyboardist Giulio Cataldo and guest vocalist Luca Sepe. The rhythm section backs the effort well, but doesn't draw much attention to itself either, in fact the bass playing is nearly transparent within the music; the drummer frames the sound well, with that special gift of knowing when not to play, when to play soft, and when to give it everything. He does occasionally get into the annoying neo boom-bash thing, but more often than not delivers precisely what is needed to support the top end. One might be occasionally reminded of the early Enid's heavy symphonic treatments, and at other times of late-80s Italian band Leviathan (primarily due to Sepe's voice) on their second album, Bee Yourself, only Grimalkin's sound is far more sensual and enriched than the latter. Both the title track and "Convoyager" crack the ten minute mark, and together with the suite of instrumentals that opens the album are the high points herein. Those who are distressed by the simplistic road that symphonic prog has taken in recent years will find plenty here to appreciate.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 12, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Grimalkin


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