Review Summary: A complex, sprawling concept album that sees Gazpacho at their most formidable.
It really is remarkable when a group of musicians are able to exercise complete and total control over their creations, all while getting their music out to those who can appreciate and love it. Say what you want about how the Internet has ruined the music industry, but no one can deny how good it has been for independent musicians. Of course there are plenty of hacks out there, but Gazpacho remain one of the most impressive and ambitious groups to rise from the Internet age. Joining with an official record label five years ago only resulted in releases more eclectic and bizarre than the last. Molok
stands as the current peak of this trend, taking the quirkiness of Demon
to a new level while exercising out much of the Lovecraftian horror it possessed. Another heady concept album, Molok
centers on science versus religious trends and Norwegian folklore. As the story takes place in the 1920s, there is a very apparent old-fashioned aesthetic to many of the melodies, particularly in the opening few tracks.
“Park Bench” and “The Master’s Voice” introduce Molok
, with airy guitars and subtle melodies interwoven throughout. The stranger moments are reserved for the following songs, with lead single “Know Your Time” being the most emotive and powerful catharsis of all four songs. It ends with a beautiful guitar solo that breaks into a calming violin outro alongside bongo drums throbbing in the background. “ABC” is one of the more accessible moments of Molok
, full of soaring synths and Jan-Henrik Ohme’s soothing vocals. This serves to break the building intensity of the previous tracks, which include full choirs, bouncy accordion lines with technical, experimental percussion and drumming.
There is something to be said for the effectiveness of Gazpacho’s penchant to include nearly every instrument conceivable in each of their releases, from the didgeridoo to the mandolin. Their constantly atypical instrumentation remarkably never collapses in on itself in over-pretentious cacophony that so many neo-progressive rock musicians fall prey to. They have always known when less is more, and the closing epic “Molok Rising” showcases these strengths beautifully. It closes the album in extended displays of grooving guitar lines (which could have been used more overall) and foreboding synth textures that weave about through the rhythmic throbbing of the diverse percussion. A moody guitar melody alongside backing instruments settle into an eerie sounding instrumental jam, each sound bleeding into one another, even the drums. This serve to remind the listener of Night
, while still being a natural evolution from an already explored sound.
It has only been one year since Demon
, and Molok
is yet another testament to the gifted minds behind Gazpacho and their seemingly endless flow of off-kilter, truly original art rock. Despite all the complexities of Molok
, there is a contemplative mystery surrounding it, and serves as reassuring reminder of what Gazpacho excel in – complex and creative musical arrangements alongside evocative atmospheres. It’s a demanding listen, and catching all of the subtle musical and thematic nuances takes time to fully digest. Let Molok’s
arcane charms wash over you, and experience all of the artful, intoxicating, and adventurous qualities contained within.