Last year, during my final semester at Houston Community College for my associate’s degree in Jazz Studies, I was completely blown away by a band from Norway that launched nineteen years ago by childhood friends Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen and followed by Jan-Henrik Ohme and then teamed up with Lars Erik Asp, Kristian Torp, and Mikael Kromer. That band is Gazpacho.
One of the albums in which it was their eighth album, Demon on the Kscope label in which its home to Steven Wilson, Anathema, Ulver, Anekdoten, and Lunatic Soul to name a few just made my day during that I listened to it from beginning to end. It was almost as if it was taken me on a ride I will never, ever forget. I can hear the essences of Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Anathema, and Pink Floyd.
And when you put those four together in a blender, it works very well to create the emotional beauty and haunting sounds that Gazpacho put together. This year, they have a new album in which it is their ninth, is called, Molok. Let me just say that it’s their finest to day. Mind you, I’m new to the band’s music since last year. It’s also a concept album dealing with the issue on religious themes, new theories, and science ideas.
The story takes place in the year of 1920. The man decides anyone that worships a God, may be devoting to the stones up in Stonehenge, Grand Cathedral, or the Mecca, may find their followers transformed into stone and not being able to return. So what the man does, is to build a machine named “Molok” in which it’s named after the biblical demon who would jaw up the children’s sacrifices because that is what his machine does to crunch the numbers up.
And then, on solstice day, he turns the machine on as it gains very quickly to forms of intelligence as it goes through the history of time. Now the story is strange and may confuse listeners, but the music itself is a supreme outstanding piece of work that I’ve listened to. The five highlights on here, give it a real inside view on the storyline.
Algorithm in which it appears as an additional instrumental track on CD, brings the middle-eastern presence to a chilling vibration. There’s elements between Peter Gabriel’s third album, Goblin, and World Music thrown into as if they were doing the score for Scorsese’s controversial 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ. Bela Kiss brings the catchy waltz to unexpected results with an accordion and a violin that has the fast beat in the Hungarian musical traditions that will have the jaws drop at the right moment to dance in those unexpected fast time signatures that it would bring.
Choir of Ancestors almost made me teary-eyed. It’s got an amazing choir, an ascending rhythm, thumping percussions, and the essence of Kate Bush’s music in the background vocals along with Jan-Henrik Ohme’s vocals just hits the notes at the right momentum before Jon-Arne Vilbo’s guitar playing sends into a goose bump momentum in his solo. You can hear the essence of the Floyd’s work in there and Jon goes for the power in his instrument.
The Dystopian-Gothic composition of Alarm begins with a droning church organ and it sends shivers as Jan-Henrik’s vocals brings the idea of being alone and not one person to help save someone’s life in the nightmarish world that has gone into hell. It has an eerie atmosphere with Thomas Andersen’s keyboards setting the scenery of the post-apocalyptic world and Lars’ drumming has a calmer and moodier sound.
The closing 9-minute piece, Molok Rising is almost a cliffhanger on what is hoping to come next in the story. With dooming/stirring guitars by Jon-Arne, ambient and unexpected synths along with thumping percussions, each of the sounds give it a twisted tale of the demon itself taking the children’s surrender before the sounds of the bells, clocks ticking and screeching noises, create the tension before abruptly ending with a silent beep.
Gazpacho have scored another home run and a year after the release of Demon. It’s almost of what would they think of next in the brainstorming room. I hope they do a sequel to this to find out what happens next in the strange and surreal story of Molok. I’ve been a fan of the Kscope label. And Gazpacho are back in full swing for the adventures, experience, art, and magnum opus they have unleashed this year.