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Gazpacho - Night CD (album) cover

NIGHT

Gazpacho

 

Crossover Prog

4.15 | 452 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VelBG
5 stars About a week ago I saw most of my friends and neighbours(on last.fm, naturally) listening to a band called Gazpacho. I thought I'd check it out, since it sounded interesting, and we have similar tastes. So I went on their page on last.fm and was pleasantly surprised that an album of theirs, Night was fully available for streaming. Okay, I'll give it a shot, I thought... was I blown away!

The opening track, "Dream of stone" is 17 minutes long. Instead of a prog piece combining many themes one would think it is, it actually centers mostly around one, slowly building up atmosphere around a steady drum beat. As "Night" is a conceptual album about dreams, this part of it is(musically at least), as the poet put it, about when the confines of the waking world blend with the world of dreams. And indeed, the mood and atmosphere it conveys, are evoking that very state of body and mind. In the first track those guys also hint and foreshadow what is to come - there are brief periods of hard-rock splendour, as well as a short piano/violin duet. As the beat fades away near the end of the song, we are drawn into the next one, "Chequered light buildings", the first of the actual dream. It starts lightly, but it slowly progresses into a harder piece with haunting synths and vocals. After releasing the musical tension in its main part, it merges with the third track. It's probably the most straightforward rock part of the album, right until the last part, where the dream apparently includes a pan-flute, a violin, an organ and owls. Owls are not what they seem. Valerie's friend, the penultimate piece, starts as a soft acoustic piece, which reflects the dream on reality(or vice versa), before eventually bursting out into hard-rock grandeur. Dramatic synth-strings, indistinguishable voices and a motif used before serve as intermedia to the concluding piece. It sums up the whole album, and in my opinion, is the strongest one. It starts subtly before transforming into a country-inspired chorus, which I find impossible not to sing along with. The following part I interpret as the waking after a dream - it's just pure beauty. I can compare it to "Mylo" from Misplaced Childhood or "Falling from the moon" from Brave, it is as charming and alluring. However, my favourite piece from the whole album comes next - a small and heartbreaking concerto for piano and violin, which concludes the album. Not something most artists dare try.

The sound of the album is ethereal, made by the skilfully layered keyboards and numerous sound effects used. The atmosphere is indeed dreamy, and in that aspect Gazpacho have completed their goal.

And while the playing of all band members is solid, none of them stands out nor shines particularly(save for the violinist, he puts on quite a show) - it is in the sonic texture and carefully crafted arrangements where their musical forte stands. I'd define their style not with a ridiculously long sentence, as I have seen some have, but simply as neo-neoprogressive rock. They take the sound of Marillion and IQ a step further, just as the former took the ideas of Pink Floyd and King Crimson ahead.

Where I see space for improvement though is the lyrical content. I may be called picky, but I would not call their lyrics the elusive thing which some define as poetry. I wouldn't even think of doing such a comment had their music not deserved, indeed, poetic lyrics. It's not that they are bad, quite the contrary, they succeed in conveying the message of the concept, but I don't see such moving passages as this, for example

The sky was Bible black in Lyon, When I met the Magdalene She was paralyzed in a streetlight She refused to give her name

And a ring of violet bruises They were pinned upon her arm Two hundred francs for sanctuary And she led me by the hand To a room of dancing shadows Where all the heartache disappeared And from glowing tongues of candles I heard her whisper in my ear jentend ton coeur

I shiver even by reading those lines, the feeling I get from their being sung is inexpressible, even after all those times I've listened to Misplaced Childhood. And I think that's mostly what divides Night from MC or say, Dark Side of the moon.

At the end of the day though, Night is an amazing album, and if in their next endeavours Gazpacho show off their playing skills, which I am sure they have. a bit more and concentrate on the lyrics(or, since their native language is not English, get a collaborator), they will create something as good as the very best in Progressive rock music.

Gazpacho's Night is certainly not mainstream, but it's accessible to most people, it's not ridiculously complicated music like Gentle Giant. It's just music devoid of the germ of commercialism. Whichever road Gazpacho take from now on, and I see quite a few before them(even abstract surrealist music, I think they'd even manage that), they should certainly not abandon the conceptual album - it is the most moving and touching non-scenical form of music ever thought of. And let me note again that it is fully streamable on last.fm, so give it a shot. This is quite possibly the album of the year for me, since it's going to take something really special to beat it. Wholeheartedly recommended.

VelBG | 5/5 |

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