Release Date: 10th September 2014
Label: Northford Pines Music
Giannotti is the US based crossover progressive vehicle for the musician Robert Giannotti, formerly of the band, Jasper Wraith. Robert was a founding member of Jasper Wraith in the early 70’s, a band that were very influenced by Yes/Moody Blues and others of that ilk. He left Jasper Wraith and for the best part of 4 decades, and did little in a musical capacity apart from some studio work, preferring to concentrate on his photography. In 2010 he completed a recording studio and set about writing and recording his debut solo album, The Great Unknown, which was finally finished, and released, in 2014.
I am extremely glad that this particular release landed on my review desk as it is a gem, which I was hitherto totally unaware of. The album is a 7 track release with a total playing time of around 58 minutes. The longest track on offer is the title track, “The Great Unknown” with a running time of just under 12 minutes (11:57), and at 5:29 minutes, track 6, “Corridor of Doors” is the shortest.
The musicians involved in The Great Unknown were Robert (guitar, flute, bass, keyboards and drums), George Clini (drums), Mike Soldan (drums and bass) and an array of vocalists, Nicole, Natalia and Jack Tanner, as well as, Ryan and Collin Graveline.
Opening the album, The Great Unknown, is “Intentions – Letting Go” (8:44) and it is a stunning introduction to the music with its symphonic start and excellent guitar soaring high above everything. As it progresses with an acoustic strummed guitar, melodic electric guitar, flute, keyboards and great vocals, this is a very satisfying listen. Over the 8+ minutes there are various influences float across your mind, including The Moody Blues, Yes, Jethro Tull and ELP. Now, don’t get the wrong idea with this comparison list, as Robert I believe is playing the music he really likes and his early influences seem to infiltrate here and there, but at no time is there the sense of “copying” from the past. “Intentions – Letting Go” is a stunning opener and makes you eager to sample what follows.
“Voyage” (8:20) starts with some atmospheric, almost dark, acoustic guitar which slowly merges into a more upbeat tempo. Emotive vocals from the guest vocalists are melodic and harmonious and fit the music very well. Some electric guitar starts to be heard off in the background, but remains subdued, as the vocals carry the track along. Just after the halfway point, the electric guitar gets to “show off” a little in front of some excellent keyboards. This is a very atmospheric track and has a plaintive flute passage carrying the track off and away.
There is more of the excellent guitar work at the start of track 3, “Dance of the Gnome” (6:13) and immerses the listener just prior to some wonderful flute phrasings, suggesting an almost pastoral feel. This instrumental flows gently along until the flute provides another terrific passage and at the 4 minute mark, the track “hardens” a little with an almost abrasive guitar theme. The gentleness of the track returns as it fades out.
The title track, “The Great Unknown” (11:57) has a sort of ambient based backdrop over which there is a stunning electric guitar theme, interspersed with the flute. This is another beautiful track with those powerful melodious vocals. A slow building track which eventually moves into an extremely atmospheric area when the soaring guitar reappears. A gentle fading outro ends a very pleasing passage of music and upon reflection, draws influences from Pink Floyd.
“Sacred Ground” (8:45), “Corridor of Doors” (5:29) and “A World Away” (8:20) includes an almost choral style to the first of these tracks, symphonic overtones and amazing flute providing pastoral imagery to the second and sees the final track having a more symphonic, choral style, and is a beautiful building song to the finale of the album.
The Great Unknown is a majestic piece of work from Robert, with the fleeting influences from bands of the past coming and going, but never intruding throughout the 60 minutes. As the music flows over you, you can be transported back several decades and enjoy sublime aural satisfaction. Make no mistake that there seems to have been a massive oversight of this album when released, and I am very glad I was given the chance to hear and review it. How it was passed over, I really do not know, but my advice is very simple, and that is, “Get out and buy this album.” Let’s ensure that Giannotti get a huge boost in the sales of this superb, but overlooked, debut.
Key Tracks: Intentions – Letting Go, The Great Unknown, A World Away
1. Intentions – Letting Go
3. Dance Of The Gnome
4. The Great Unknown
5. Sacred Ground
6. Corridor Of Doors
7. A World Away
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
May 9, 2016
Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk