In the world of contemporary prog, very few bands take it to such artsy and fascinating landscapes as Norwegian’s Gazpacho, whether it’s in their musicality, their craftsmanship or their narrative. Hitting a career high last year with their brave and majestic Demon (Kscope) saw them perfectly meld a haunting, classical style with a continuous and suitably dark tale of a Demon. Over a year later and the follow up album sees them not sitting on their laurels, with further stylistic changes and an equally unconventional concept.
Molok (Kscope) takes the brain stalling idea of a man who decides, in the 1920s, that all worship of any God has become the worship of stone as God has retreated to such objects. Coupled with this head scratching idea is the fact that a frequency at the album’s close could spell the end of the world.
Rather than just simply coming up with a weird and wonderful story alone, Gazpacho compliment and match it with vibrant and extremely well executed atmospheres and sounds that once again fully breathe it to life. At times there is a much greater focus on a more tribal and dissident sound such as on ‘Algorithm’ which emphasizes large, traditional percussion throughout, whilst the likes of ‘ABC’ prove almost contrasting with a more soothing and dreamlike air. The title track even includes like-to-like recreations of Stone Age instruments, contributed by music archaeologist Gjermund Kolltveit.
As such, this may borderline on becoming pretentious and even elitist, but Gazpacho manage to encapsulate all this in a way that is still warming and welcoming. Those unfamiliar with art rock and prog could find it daunting, but otherwise this is very melodic and has plenty to latch on to whilst all the while proving dynamic and imaginative. Meant to be enjoyed as a whole rather than broken up, each new listen reveals further nuances and details. Jan Henrik Ohme’s voice also proves as hypnotic as ever, conveying melancholy, serenity and menace with aplomb, and the accompanying female vocals add an extra, welcome dimension.
As ever, a new Gazpacho album will reveal further secrets with each additional listen and thus trying to articulate it entirely is futile, but what is clear is that Molok is a rich and heavily detailed and thought out work which will prove more and more rewarding with time. Where Demon was the band’s benchmark, Molok has very easily matched it at the very least. This could well be the band’s greatest opus to date.