It’s great to see bands use the power of the Internet to increase their visibility and successfully release remarkable albums. My second Norwegian band in a row, neo-progressive rock band Gazpacho is one of those bands, and has released their second album in two years entitled “Molok.” In reference to biblical god worshipped by the sacrificing of children in the Old Testament, the album follows a concept based in the 1920’s with a theme relating to the contention between scientific and religious thought. Noticing the increase of false worship and the seemingly absent nature of God, a man builds a machine that will predict the future using historical data and physics, essentially replacing Him (anyone else thinking of the “Foundation” series?). If the subject matter wasn’t heavy or deep enough, the album ends with a static noise that could potentially destroy the universe (I’m not joking). I may not be a scientist, but this could very well be either the most important album to ever be released, or an intriguing listen worth 45 minutes of your time. I fall into the latter.
Please note that I was only recently introduced to Gazpacho by my friend at Notes Reviews, and have not heard anything from them prior to this album. As glad as I am to find this band, it makes my job a little more difficult to accurately critique this album without prior knowledge of the band. With that said, I will try my best to share with you all my thoughts after several listens of “Molok.”
The theme of science versus religion is present throughout the album, considering the digital, mechanical sounds and the holy-sounding, airy voice of singer Jan Henrik Ohme and choral female vocals. The historic presence of the album is also felt, which includes tribal percussions, accordions, mandolins, violins, and various other instruments throughout time. In this way, Gazpacho succeeds in placing me in early twentieth century Norway, with snow piling in the streets and folksy myths whispered from ear to ear. In doing this, though, I also feel the relatively slow and acoustic nature the album chooses to tell its story. Not to say the album is boring, but “Molok” happens to be softer than I imagined when first listening. It’s another album that takes time in telling its story, forcing its listeners to feel the slower evolution of the album.
More tranquil and atmospheric, “Molok” is a slow-burner needing multiple listens to understand its complexity, like solving for x on a math test. It isn’t until you have applied all the variables that one understands its beauty, and appreciates what the album has to offer. Starting off with “Park Bench,” the listener is immediately drawn in with the mechanical, tribal sounds suggestive of a working machine. It’s an interesting track to introduce an album, since it’s one of the album’s hardest tracks. Everything from here on follows a slower pace, relying on simpler orchestrations and modern sounds to connect each song. The following track “The Master’s Voice,” one of my favorites off the album, has a David Gilmour vibe with slide guitar rhythms and keyboard-heavy arrangements. “Bela Kiss” even incorporates all the uncommon instruments Gazpacho is known to use, which only accentuates the period of time this album takes place. Without coming across as pretentious, Gazpacho dramatically shows off their collective, artistic skill throughout “Molok.”
My two favorite tracks are the album single “Know Your Time” and “ABC,” the prior being an emotive and powerful piece, and the latter being an accessible, pop-oriented song. The common theme in both songs, though, is Kristian Torp’s powerful bass lines that dominate the aural experience. Those powerful plucks and slides of the strings are all the listener can focus on, emphasized in due to the beautiful soundscapes provided from the synthesizers by keyboardist Thomas Andersen. The presence of the bass guitar serves to increase each song’s intensity, adding an unnerving feeling that things will end horribly for the protagonist by the album’s end. If you aren’t aware of how the story concludes, let’s just say it isn’t happy.
Gazpacho’s “Molok” is a paradox, as I feel there’s a lot going on within the album while at the same time not. Although the subject matter requires repeated listens before even the simplest of understanding, the music itself is somber, softer, and requires as many listens to appreciate. Whether you end up giving the album its required listens or not, one cannot deny the eccentricity and adventurousness of Gazpacho, who are arguably one of the most talented, experimental, and fearless bands in modern progressive rock. For fans of bands like North Atlantic Oscillation, The Pineapple Thief, Marillion, Steven Wilson, and Riverside, I definitely recommend this album. You can support Gazpacho by checking out their website, and by following them on their Facebook and Twitter pages for band and tour updates. They are currently touring across Europe in support of “Molok,” so those attending should share their experiences with me!
What did you think of the album? Comment below!