Album review: GAZPACHO – Demon

Kscope – Out Now.

The description by a well respected UK Rock magazine of Gazpacho as “Norway’s best kept Prog secret” is one that truly baffles me, not because I do not share the enthusiasm and excitement for the music of this sextet, but simply because I feel that any band which has released eight studio albums of sheer quality should be anything but a secret!

Anyway, “Demon”, the band’s latest studio album, is now available to you in a variety of different formats and now I will try to convince you to add it to your record/CD collection!

Since their inception back in 1996, Gazpacho have been all about musical experimentation, evolution and the breaking of restraints as far as musical composition is concerned. With that in mind, “Demon” is a natural evolution from 2012s “March Of Ghosts”.

Instead of investing in short focused musical pieces, Gazpacho’s eighth studio album consists of four compositions, three of which average thirteen minutes in duration.

This enables the band not only to flex its progressive muscles, but to bring together, with the assistance of unique sounding instruments like the accordion and banjo, melodies and themes that one would not expect to find on any average Rock album. And the end result is truly stunning.

The album kicks off with “I’ve Been Walking”, a song whose moody piano tunes and emotionally charged vocals are heavily influenced by latter-day Marillion – a band which has offered the members of Gazpacho a great level of support over the years.

Rather than trying to clone their heroes, however, these highly intelligent Norwegians operate in a far more experimental mode, focusing on various cleverly crafted orchestrations, layered choral parts and atmospheric string instrumentation creating, in the process, a perfect example of atmospheric Prog magnificence.

Shorter, but equally inspiring, “The Wizard Of Altai Mountains” finds the band trying out gypsy folk tunes with the assistance of a banjo and accordion, while the twelve minute follow up “I’ve Been Walking (Part 2)” features layers upon layers of soul raising orchestral/vocal/string instrument melodies the quality of which is difficult to put into words!

As expected, the most challenging material of this album is left for the end. Spanning a staggering eighteen and a half minutes and featuring more rhythmical/melodic changes than spices in Istanbul’s Bazaar, “Death’s Room” is a dark sounding Marillion Hogarth-era styled composition that may take a while to connect with the average music fan but which is guaranteed to offer hours upon hours of musical companionship to those who persevere.

Gazpacho are one of those bands I have only discovered relatively recently, and every new album released has further strengthened the bond I now have with their music.

Some music journalists have already say that the Norwegian art Progsters have taken a gamble with “Demon” as it is an album that the average Rock fan might find somewhat difficult to relate to.

I, on the other hand, believe that it is bands like Gazpacho and albums like “Demon” which offer a glimmer of hope as far as the future of Rock music is concerned – several focused spins will prove the validity of my argument!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)




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