Review-By Progreviews. My first encounter with Gazpacho came in March 2007, when a friend of mine said that he'd just heard the album of the year. Not only was it March, but it was early March, so I was not entirely convinced. Still, I was curious to see what had gotten him so excited, and he loaned me Night, as well as Gazpacho's two preceding albums. Writing this review in late March, I'm still not entirely convinced by his claim, but I'm nevertheless rather impressed.The first thing worth noting about this album is that it's better than the two that preceded it. While the earlier albums certainly had their merits, this one strikes me as having a unified sense of pupose, and consistently high quality. This album has the laid-back, spacious sound of Porcupine Tree or even Sigur Rós. Unlike these bands, however, Gazpacho never rock nor do they just drift; rather, the constant low-tempo beat ensures that they cruise.
Musical highlights include the seventeen-minute opener, with its monotonous rhythm and dense multi-tracking, and "Upside Down," which probably contains the strongest music on the album, including a section which is based on American Indian music. These are indicative of what the album is about. There is rarely any change in the dynamics, with tempo and volume both fairly uniform throughout. There is, however, an eclectic mix of sounds, be they violins, guitars, various keyboards or even didgeridoo. The band have cast their net wide for musical ideas, but then bundled it up very tightly into a cohesive musical package.
Listening to this album, the two bands I am reminded most of are Radiohead and Hogarth-era Marillion, partly thanks to the vocals and partly thanks to the production, which is very high on reverb. I actually prefer Gazpacho to either of these bands, though, partly because I can hear a more diverse range of musical ideas. The sound is contemporary, but still harkens back to the traditional progressive rock value of eclecticism. This may well not be the album of the year, but it is certainly of the best of the newer bands I have heard.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008