Gratto - Anakin Tumnus

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Progressive Music Management (PMM)
Catalog Number: PMM-0500A
Format: CD
Total Time: 36:22:00

Put on Gratto's Anakin Tumnus and what is the first thought when the fragile, whispered vocals of the first track, "Passage Of Time" begin? That at some point vocalist Gratto is going to sing, "The best part of waking up, is Folger's in your cup." That is, if you a) watch TV and b) get inundated with coffee commercials. At any rate, that is what it sounds like to me.

Ah, but this quartet will make you forget that in short order with their heavy, angular rhythms. Inevitably, with the word "angular," King Crimson comes to mind. And it should, because it is apt, though Gratto are much heavier than Crimson. The addition of piano and organ are not Crimson elements, however, which means that there are other references. The bio on the label's website refers to this as "Tull/Echolyn/Crimson-esque." I don't hear the Tull element here myself, but yes, a case could be made for Echolyn, certainly during the last segment "Shift" which recalls early Echolyn material. Listening to the harmonized vocals, which Echolyn picked up from Gentle Giant (among other elements), you'll hear one reason why. What isn't mentioned and should be is that during the first track Gratto sounds like a young Greg Lake while the music itself sounds like a heavier version of "Tarkus" without the percussive organ of Keith Emerson ("Stones Of Years" also comes to mind). At one point early on guitars and bass and drums churn darkly ? here you'd call Gratto a metal band, with the complexity of prog rock (or prog metal). Later, in "Call And Response," you'll think of Fish, if not in tone, certainly in the explosive delivery. The middle section of "Shift" includes a classical, beautiful, lyrical piano interlude from Gratto ? contemplative and sad. So, there are diverse textures here, though overall you can say this album rocks! "Call And Response" is closer to the prog of Genesis, and those that followed in their footsteps, including Marillion (and more so Marillion) and those that followed in their footsteps. Echolyn also could be referenced here. They do throttle it back in "Shifts" ? where each gets to show off their more subtle skills while playing off and with each other. Yeh, I'm jumping around a bit with review, but I keep playing the CD.

About the band itself: The propulsive percussive drive is provided by Leger De Main drummer Brett Rodler while the some sinewy, sometimes blistering guitar is from brother Chris Rodler (also Leger De Main). The throbbing beat of bass comes from Gary Madras, while namesake Gratto plays piano and organ. They began working on the material in 1996, recorded it over a period of three years, and then drifted apart as first Madras left, then the brothers Rodler went back to focus on Leger De Main. It wasn't until 2001, when "Chris found a lost DAT stuffed between last year's Christmas ornaments and discarded baby clothes. The lost two years provided perspective, as Chris revisited the compositional chops and intricate arrangements that were recorded over many tumultuous nights. Simultaneously a snapshot of what was and a sign of what could be, Chris' enthusiasm for the project returned, and soon the finishing touches were put on Anakin Tumnus," says the bio at the PMM site. Though the band itself didn't reform, it was mixed and released last year by Progressive Music Management. Gratto's piano parts were recorded in an empty church using the "congregation's grand piano - grandiose ideals from Gratto the man required grandiose setups for Gratto the band. Over the next three years, those hallowed halls captured theatrical Fish-like emotional vocal deliveries, incendiary fretwork, and stop-and-start stylistic changes." Gratto made great use of that grand piano as his playing is terrific. In fact, all the performances are great, their interaction tight. Things do seem a little chaotic a little deeper into "Call And Response," the left and right sides of the protagonists brain converse.

Only three tracks, lasting 36 minutes, but it is as satisfying as full length album. Oh sure, you want more, but you're not left wanting. Anakin Tumnus is a concept album, where the "as the main character searches for meaning in an empty world." In those 36 minutes, Gratto have packed more than many do on two discs of material. Though the concept had to be reworked to fit the recorded material (regrouping for more materials was not in the cards), it feels complete.

Passage Of Time (9:03) / Call And Response (10:29) / Shift (16:50)

Gratto ? piano, organ and vocals
Chris Rodler ? guitars
Brett Rodler ? drums
Gary Madras ? bass

Anakin Tumnus (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 4th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1138
Language: english


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