Well, here’s something deep. Often you’ll find that progressive rock bands have challenging material and / or subject matter in their music. Norwegian act Gazpacho are not, therefore, unique in that respect.
Past albums have recounted a story based on that of pioneering French aviator Antoine De Saint-Exupéry and his 1935 attempt to fly from Paris to Saigon (2009’s “Tick Tock”) and the tale of Atropos, one of the three goddesses of fate and destiny in Ancient Greek mythology (“Missa Atropos” from 2011). The band’s last studio album “Demon” (2014) were said to be based on “the mad ramblings left behind by an unknown tenant in an apartment in Prague.”
Formed in 1996 by vocalist Jan-Henrik Ohme, guitarist Jon-Arne Vilbo and keyboardist Thomas Andersen, Gazpacho have evolved over the years and now include violinist / guitarist Mikael Krømer (since 2004), bassist Kristian Torp (since 2005) and drummer Lars Erik Asp (since 2010).
The sextet’s latest release is the band’s ninth studio album, titled “Molok”. The theme for this record is, according to Andersen, “about a man that sometime around 1920 decides that wherever anyone worships a God they always seem to be worshipping stone in some form. Whether it is a grand cathedral, the stone in Mecca or Stonehenge. God seems to have been chased by his worshipers into stone never to return. This harkens back to Norwegian folk myths where if a troll was exposed to sunlight it would turn to stone but it also reflects the way God has been incommunicado for a very long time.”
As if that’s not conceptual enough, the group also state that “in a mechanistic view of the universe all events in the universe are a consequence of a previous event. This means that with enough information you should be able to calculate the past and the future and this is what he does. He names the machine ‘Molok’ after the biblical demon into whose jaws children were sacrificed because his machine crunches numbers. On solstice day he starts the machine and it quickly gains some form of intelligence as it races through history undergoing its own evolution.”
Oh, and just to add to the fun, the final track “Molok Rising” has a code embedded at the very end that plays a short noise but will also “cause the correction software that runs in all CD players to generate a random number every time the CD is played. If that number should correspond to the actual position of all electrons in the universe then technically the universe could be destroyed.” I think it’s fair to say that if you are reading this then this technical possibility has not yet actually occurred. Which is a relief!
Anyway, what about the music itself? In the past the band’s music has been likened to Marillion, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree and even A-ha – the latter most likely due to Ohme’s smooth vocal style.
There is some Greek sounding instrumentation in “Bela Kiss”, “Know Your Time” has some Norwegian folk stylings, whilst elsewhere can be found the sound of church bells, accordion and tribal drums.
There is some lovely soaring guitar work from Vilbo to be heard too, and plenty of lush keyboards courtesy of Andersen. The are some quite breathtakingly beautiful sections on this album.
Of the bands previously mentioned, Marillion are probably the best comparison – if looking at the work they have produced since Steve Hogarth took over the mic stand.
I’m not going to single out any tracks as highlights as this, in common with so much good music, is an album that takes a while to get under your skin and reveal itself fully. When it does, however, it reveals itself to be a full-bodied and mature piece of work that deserves to be heard by a wider audience than bands of this ilk often attract. “Molok” demands some time and concentration but is worth the effort. Exquisite…
1. Park Bench / 2. The Master’s Voice / 3. Bela Kiss / 4. Know Your Time / 5. Choir Of Ancestors / 6. ABC / 7. Algorithm / 8. Alarm / 9. Molok Rising