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Gazpacho - Soyuz CD (album) cover

SOYUZ

Gazpacho

 

Crossover Prog

3.78 | 125 ratings

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thesimilitudeofprog
5 stars "Soyuz" is Norway's Gazpacho's 10th studio album. Trying to define their sound or vision aside from describing them as a crossover prog outfit is near impossible with each passing release giving us music that is complex. They are also notorious for there fascination with stories and concept albums. A trend that continues on Soyuz, a creative journey, capturing the sounds and themes of the passing of moments that can't be saved or frozen to be savored again.

The album begins with "Soyuz One," a song about the doomed Russian space capsule Soyuz and its captain Komarov.The track develops slowly in the typical Gazpacho style with sound effects and drum samples building the backing track. Vocalist Jan Henrik Ohme has a seductive way of singing that is both beautiful and haunting at the same time.

The second track "Hypomaina" also has a gentle introduction but after that the band throw a bit of a curve ball and go into a territory I've never really heard Gazpacho go in before. "Hypomania" is a song about someone who realizes that he is in love with his own projection of someone and not the real person. He has a crisis and ends up leaving. This is an excellent track and nice to see a band who after 10 albums are still mixing things up.

The third track "Exit suite" acts as a nice break after the heavier "Hypomania" and reminds me of Radiohead. One thing that really stands out about Gazpacho is really they have many musical weapons. Instead of creating say a guitar driven track or a keyboard driven track. They often give each instrument the limelight within each song. For example in "Soyuz one", there is a violin solo outro to the track which is just amazing and something which seems quite rare on a prog record. But again this is just another thing which makes Gazpacho stand out and keeps them interesting.

The diversity of Gazpacho's musical world is shown again on "Emperor Bespoke" with KrÝmer's delightfully picked mandolin and violin. The sing-song folky feel is then forcefully punctuated with Jon-Arne Vilbo's guitar break, before we return to the distinctive rhythm of the opening section. I am not entirely sure what this song is about but it sure sticks in your head!

"Sky Burial" deals with the tragedy of the scene it depicts, apparently that of a Tibetan Buddhist funeral practice that leaves the body on a mountainside to be decomposed by animals or the elements, although this isn't immediately apparent from the somewhat oblique lyrics. One little fault i find with Sky Burial in particular is the 2 notes being played on the keyboard over and over again throughout the track is very repetitive.

If one song represents the theme of the album, it's "Fleeting Things." Many of the lyrics hint at the final moments of a life. " As empires fall, Aiming to keep what's the essence of all, Bullied and broken, bloody and bruised, Living in moments, stolen moments." Finds the band as close to writing a true ballad as they've ever come. The hook here is undeniably incredible.

If "Soyuz One" is restrained in nature, "Soyuz Out" returns to the same scene but frames it from a different perspective, still navigating between electric beats and live drums but with broader brush strokes in the musical phrasing. This track really just takes my breath away and just shows how good Gazpacho are at constructing long songs while keeping them interesting and giving the record a sense of drama.

The CD finishes with "Rappaccini" which is not on the vinyl edition. It's a decent track, but for me is the weakest on the album. I feel it should have been positioned on the album before "Soyuz Out." I think the albums would end much better with a sense of tension.

Gazpacho continue to amaze with each release. This is an album that sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are listening to it daily, over and over. It has so much to offer musically, lyrically, and is thought-provoking and interesting at every turn. Soyuz is another winner from the Gazpacho and one that will no doubt be, one of my top albums this year.

Essential: A masterpiece of progressive rock music.

thesimilitudeofprog | 5/5 |

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