HiRez Poll Gentle Giant - OCTOPUS [BluRay Audio]


Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Rate the BDA of Gentle Giant - OCTOPUS

  • 6:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Poor Surround, Poor Fidelity, Poor Content

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since 2002/2003
Mar 2, 2002
Please post your thoughts and comments on this October 30, 2015 BluRay Audio 5.1 release, mixed by Steven Wilson, of Gentle Giant's OCTOPUS album.

Link to the pre-release discussion thread: https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/showthread.php?21008


Last edited by a moderator:
I have listened to the Blu-ray a couple of times and Wilson has done a great job with the up mixes. Unless I review which ones are which I can't tell. I have to admit I have never heard Octopus before and really am enjoying the surround mix a lot!
This release is certainly a little bit controversial, befitting the challenging music Gentle Giant made at the time.
The first track of any release (from both a musical and a mixing perspective) is always important because it sets the tone for everything else that follows and could easily convince someone to stay tuned in or to tune out and go listen to something else.
Given that the first two songs on this album necessitated upmixing is never a great thing as we would all prefer well-done discrete mixes that really suit the medium of surround sound, but despite that, I'm glad to say that the upmixes come off well for the most part. Where they falter is not something that can be helped, and in this instance, these upmixes still bear the full sonic characteristic of the original mix, and not for the better as there are some unpleasant distortions present in the original mix that can never be removed, and that's part of the reason why these upmixes will never quite fit in sonically with the other discrete mixes on this release.
Once we have gotten past the first two tracks, we're finally onto the discrete mixes, starting with "A Cry For Everyone". The clarity in comparison to what came before it is astonishing and a clear reminder that mixing is not just about how loud things are and where they go. The right amounts of EQ, compression, and other processing all contribute just as significantly to a successful mix, and Steven still retains the great things about the sound of Octopus while still providing more clarity when needed.
Going into this release, I always knew that the success of this surround mix would live and die by how well "Knots" was presented, and it's presented exactly as I hoped it would be, with a different voice in each corner. The accompanying instruments for those acapella sections are also discretely mixed in the corners as well, and it's a technique that works very well for this song. Bloody well done!
Next up is the final upmix of this release "The Boys in the Band", and this one is definitely the best IMO, probably because this particular track doesn't suffer from the same mix distortions like "The Advent of Panurge" and "Raconteur Troubadour" do.
"Dog's Life" has never been my favorite track on the album, but its instrumentation and arrangement work perfectly well in surround, especially in the middle section.
The penultimate song on this album, "Think Of Me With Kindness", is my favorite, and it could be Gentle Giant at their most heartfelt and melodic. Like a "Dog's Life", the middle section of this song provides the best surround moment with Kerry's vocals and mellotron filling all channels out very nicely.
Finally, we get to "River". Not one of my favorites on the album, but the surround mix of it works just fine. Derek Shulman's voice appears to come further out in the room on this track than previous ones. One thing I do really love about this song though is Gary Green's fantastic bluesy guitar solo right in the middle. He and John Weathers on drums definitely helps Gentle Giant to loosen up and groove a little more, and their contributions should never be minimized.

The proper album itself has me overcooked, so I'll wait for another opportunity to comment on the bonus live track.
I don't find this release to be quite as stellar as "The Power and the Glory" is for obvious reasons, but I truly think all involved with this release did the absolute best job they could to present the definitive version of this album to us, and for that, I have no issues giving it a '10'.

One final thought: This release is very special for one of our own members as it's the first time (I believe) that Thomas Lafon (Plan9) has been recognized for his contributions in helping to fine-tune Steven Wilson remixes by receiving credit in this release's booklet. Way to go, Thomas! I always knew it would happen one day. ;)
Hi Ryan, can I politely question the notion of giving a release 10 when approximately a third of it is upmixed?
Hi Ryan, can I politely question the notion of giving a release 10 when approximately a third of it is upmixed?

Hey Mike, that's an absolutely valid question as it's one that I asked myself a lot while listening to and reviewing this particular release, but another question I was asking myself at that same time was is it fair to deduct points simply for something that while not perfect could never be changed or improved?
I have been criticized by many on this forum for only giving 9/10 to many of the Jethro Tull releases simply because the chosen format for those releases doesn't allow for high-resolution surround sound, but the difference between those releases and this one is that the team behind the Jethro Tull releases made a deliberate choice to not release most of these reissues on a high-res format (like DVD-A or Blu-Ray) while in the case of "Octopus", the missing multitrack tapes for those particular songs left them no choice but to upmix in order to create a complete surround presentation of the album.

Placing the upmixes to one side, when I look at every other aspect of this release, I see nothing but perfection, and I can tell that no expense was spared to bring us this release, therefore I absolutely standby my vote of '10' and recommend this release to anyone and everyone who think they may enjoy it. :)
The upmixes do sound good and have effective separation but I would stop short of saying they make for a seamlessly integrated overall presentation. Besides the distortion RT mentioned there’s some muddiness to the toms & bass at times and the processing would appear to have created some dynamic imbalances. For instance in the opening track Derek’s first “Then said he fair Pantagruel” line seems more recessed than in the original. The SW mixes, on the other hand, are uniformly superb with greater clarity, separation and musicality. Still, even with the compromise of the upmixes, I’m so happy they went forward with this project. In addition to the 5 newly mixed album tracks we’re treated to one hell of a great extra in the live “Excerpts from Octopus”. This would appear to be the same performance from Playing the Fool (or at least parts of it - I’ll have to double check) but has much better fidelity and a terrific new 5.1 mix. This demonstrates what a brilliant live unit they were. Incredible stuff from all 5 members. A full 5.1 live release from this period would be fantastic.

Is it fair deducting a point or two for the upmixes? Perhaps, but as long as people voice their comments along with their ratings I’m not too concerned how it affects their final vote. But I lean more to RT’s point - the missing multis were out of their control so I’ll relegate the upmixes to an asterisk and give the whole package a 10*.
To me it's the remixes that tend to alter the balances. The upmix balances track the 'recessed' and 'forward' parts of the 2 channel mixes very well. Including the part of 'Advent of Panurge' you cite.
Excellent package again. The sound is superb, even it has to be said on the 3 upmixed tracks.

I was always disappointed that this album was only 33/34 minutes long, and I'm obviously disappointed by the missing multi tracks. To compensate for this, the live from Octopus extracts, which is around 16 minutes long, is amazing, both in terms of band performance and discrete surround sound. I have to admit that I'd never heard any live Gentle Giant before, and I'm impressed (y) The inclusion of this live piece has turned a 9 into a 10.
this so much a ten! For the upmixed tracks I'd substract a point, but for the 5.1 of the live excerpts from Octopus I'd add at least 2 points, so a ten it is!
An 8 for me. I love Gentle Giant, but I only like this album. The five true 5.1 mixes all sound as good as anything else SW has done (in making this statement, I'm presuming that my system might be a bit out off right now because the right rear channel seemed a bit louder than the other channels). The upmix of "The Boys in the Band" sounds more discreet than the other two upmixes. The video of the octopus that runs while the album is playing became very annoying to me fairly quickly. The only reason I kept watching is for the interesting quotes from the band members that appear on the screen over the video footage. Having watched this once, I'll never watch this again. "Excerpts From 'Octopus'" is, as far as I can tell, the same performance used for their "Playing the Fool" live album. It sounds great and I wish SW could remix that entire album (which I really love). I wish some of the song demos could have been included, but since they don't appear on eariler GG outtakes albums, they probably don't exist anymore.
To my ears I can clearly tell the difference between the 5.1 remixed tracks & the upmixed tracks, but if the master tracks are not available its pointless to argue about it.(The 5.1 remix tracks are clearer & sharper and not as "foggy" to my ears). But the upmixed tracks are still quite pleasant and are an improvement, I believe.

This one is personal. When I bought my first DVD-A;Brain salad Surgery, back in 2000, I NEVER dreamed I would be able to buy Power & The Glory and Octopus in 5.1 remixed pristinely. I have adored & been in awe of those records since I was a teen in the seventies.

Who says there is no free lunch?

Sorry for more tens, but it is in fact ........ a ten. :music
I voted 8. Good music and real good mix. This is my second Gentle giant surround disc and i ejoy them both, i just don't think this is something i would listen to if it weren't in surround. Glad to have it.
My first listen to anything by Gentle Giant ever. I find this to be very interesting and engrossing music. I think that it holds up today despite recorded some 40+ years ago. We get Steven Wilson's usual excellent work on the 5.1 tracks. The Penteo upmixed tracks sound very good as well even though they don't have the "depth" of the discreet tracks. Glad you all talked me into getting this one! Easily a 9.
Has anybody figured out a way to play the 5.1 without the TV on?
Fucked if I can.

Yeah, unlike our pal Neil Wilkes, Ray Shulman never seemed to be very concerned with the concept of 'headless playback' (i.e. playback without a TV.)
For DVD-A, the vast majority of titles default to the MLP 5.1 stream as the default, and lately, Neil's Blu-Rays default to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 when playback begins. (Heck sometimes certain releases even have a playback guide in the booklet, which is very helpful.)

BUT if memory serves me correct, the vast majority of DVD-V and Blu-Ray discs authored by Ray Shulman default to stereo when playback begins, so the listener usually does need to go to audio setup and select the right stream in order to playback in 5.1 from the start. Very annoying, I know…
Also, it would be nice if Ray could get on bored using those colored buttons and programming them for various audio options, just like Neil and other authoring engineers are doing nowadays. That's very convenient. :)
I voted 9. I purchased this on an Amazon deal at $18.00 as I couldn't pass on a Steven Wilson remix at that price.
Sonically in Blu Ray 5.1 this is a 10 done extremely well. Quite enjoyable. On screen menu works very well, easy to read. Some little treats, instrumental, live show no video, 1972 original recording, etc. Good liner notes in a 2 disc digipak.
If I was a person who grew up on this release or super like this type of music this would be a 10, but the content is not music that I love.
The menu has a non stop octopus in a fish bowl, like looking at the Christmas Fireplace on TV, cool, but boring after awhile. Some others have asked about turning off TV on this thread. I have a 2016 Samsung 4K and using the remote, clicking to picture, scroll down, and hit picture off. Which I do quite a bit in video based menus, etc.