There is, presumably, a pretty large segment of Giant Squid fans who came to the San Francisco band after hearing cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz’s work with other bands; she fronts the group Grayceon, and her résumé includes sessions with acts like Ludicra, Neurosis, Om, Cattle Decapitation, and perhaps most prominently, Agalloch (her cello is the only instrument you hear on “They Escaped The Weight Of Darkness,” the opening track from Agalloch’s world-consuming 2010 LP, Marrow Of The Spirit). But those fans stayed with Giant Squid because Giant Squid make beautiful, strange, cinematic music that not only has no real peers, but belongs to no extant genre. It’s some prog-doom-ambient hybrid, with cues both musical and lyrical from ancient Mediterranean culture. Perez Gratz’s partner — both in Giant Squid and in life — is Aaron Gregory, who sings and plays guitar for Giant Squid, and he also creates the band’s legit-fucking-breathtaking, ultra-high-concept artwork. Stereogum Black Market contributor Doug Moore did a terrific interview with Gregory for Invisible Oranges back when Doug and I were both working for the site, and in that piece, Gregory dropped visual references ranging from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing to Moebius, and musical references ranging from Weakling to Tom Waits. I think you can find traces of all those oddball visionaries in Giant Squid. The band’s fourth full-length, Minoans, is due at the end of this month. In Gregory’s own words: “Lyrically, the album is a giant love letter to the Mediterranean and specifically Bronze-age Greece — a region, people, and time period that deeply fascinates me — and which I feel mirrors these heartbreakingly brutal, turbulent times we live in today.” To go with that narrative theme, Gregory created an “interactive illustration on the mysterious demise of the Minoans,” which you can check out here. But you can also check out a song from the album below. It’s called “Mycenaeans” and it’s a haunting, otherworldly, fascinating thing. Listen.
Minoans is out 10/28 via Translation Loss.