Gazpacho
Molok


3.0
good

Review

by Underflow USER (24 Reviews)
January 29th, 2016 | 29 replies


Release Date: 10/23/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not the art rock masterpiece you're looking for.

Expectations are often our own worst enemies. We hear an exciting, novel record for the first time and fall head over heels like starry-eyed saps. Soon after, we begin constructing the absurd mythology of a band “too big to fail.” Gazpacho’s Demon worked as the perfect lure for that trap. Haunting, bizarre and curiously beautiful, 2014’s progressive rock sleeper hit found the band firing on all creative cylinders for a career milestone – an album that, by all accounts, will go down as one of art rock’s overlooked gems. Molok, the follow-up to 2014’s masterful Demon, seemed primed for rounds of universal praise, and it’s probably going to get it. Best-of-the-year lists will likely make room for the Norwegian ensemble’s latest record. Droves of avid listeners will likely throw the album into heavy rotation. But I won’t. Gazpacho’s Molok isn’t what I hoped for, and it’s my own fault for expecting perfection.

A major reason for this lukewarm reception is the band’s approach to songwriting, which finds Ohme and company once again discarding the extended, long-form compositions of Night and Demon in favor of bite-sized chunks of sound. This wouldn’t be an issue, however, if Molok’s thematic and conceptual depth didn’t demand more from each individual track. “Algorithm” effectively grips the listener by the throat with its ominous, tribal soundscapes but loses hold just as quickly; it merely segues into another track and never truly develops beyond beleaguered sighs and pounding rhythms.

Elsewhere, “Bela Kiss” quickly earns its spot as Gazpacho’s most curious track to date. It’s an ethnic romp with little substance, not dissimilar in sound from the Italian tarantella outro of “Wizard of Altai Mountains” but without the impact. Oddly, the track isn’t attached to a more substantial centerpiece, and it doesn’t carry enough fire to warrant itself as a standalone composition. These tracks would have served well as smaller pieces in a larger whole - small segments in the vivid, sprawling sonic canvases the band has so thoroughly demonstrated its talent in coloring. “Algorithm” and “Bela Kiss” aren’t the only offenders here: they’re just the most egregious.

It’s a shame, too, because Molok is one Gazpacho’s best sounding records. “Know Your Time” sports a spacious mix that allows each instrument room to breathe, evoking the band’s trademarked ethereal wonderment with ease. But even the record’s brightest moments flicker out when put into perspective. Gorgeous as it is, “Know Your Time” is a retread of familiar territory. In many ways it’s the prototypical Gazpacho song. River-of-glass vocals" Check. Haunting atmospherics" Check. The subdued percussion of “Choir of Ancestors” is a smart production choice, allowing Ohme’s smooth vocals to take center-stage, but, ultimately, it feels a bit hollow – like an excerpt from material that wasn’t strong enough to get out of the cutting room last time around.

Despite this, Molok isn’t a poor effort, or even an average one. It’s decidedly good, but when a band has consistently raised the bar to herculean heights – Night, anyone" – it becomes progressively harder to be impressed. 2014’s Demon introduced bizarre instrumentation and unexpected twists into the group’s arsenal, but Molok merely doubles down and dumbs down. Nothing here caries the ethereal, cinematic sweep of “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 2” and nothing hits quite as hard as Ohme’s dramatic declaration of “I lost it down the rabbit hole” in “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 1.” Molok, in many ways, seems natural as a next step for the group: it continues to divorce the band’s sound from the sea of uninspired prog-rock tribute acts. That’s a great move, but opting for refinement over revolution only works if you’re actually upping the ante, and, sadly, that’s where Gazpacho drops the ball. Molok certainly isn’t a revolution, but it’s not really a refinement, either: it’s a band in suspended animation.



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user ratings (75)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
TalonsOfFire STAFF (4)
A complex, sprawling concept album that sees Gazpacho at their most formidable....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Underflow
January 28th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Originally published last year on my blog: http://tonescratch.com/2015/11/12/gazpachos-molok-is-not-the-art-rock-masterpiece-youre-looking-for/

SharkTooth
January 28th 2016


13794 Comments


commenting so I can read later

Onirium
January 28th 2016


3035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is an excellent review; I partly share your opinion as well, especially in the idea the the departure from the "extended, long-form" compositional structure is detrimental to the album's cohesion and, perhaps, its overall quality. I think it's fairly legitimate to affirm their greatest records (Demon, Night and Tick Tock, for me) all followed a relatively similar structure.

So, that makes this album, to me, an "experimentation in structure" for the band; it's a completely different musical experience. Here we have detached pieces of music forming a whole while exploring perhaps more varied textures and dynamics.

At times it does feel like a draft, though, I admit.

Demon has grown to be among my favourite albums of all time, and this is an essentially worthwhile addition to their discog to me - although it's not quite the progression I expected.



Mythodea
January 29th 2016


4182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review, though I disagree. Album's just different, but I believe it has the same depth. They could make a Demon Pt. II, just opted not to. Anyway, have my pos.

Underflow
January 29th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The problem isn't that this isn't Demon Pt. 2, but that the brief, sketch-like composition of the songs doesn't lend itself to the gravity of the theme.

Mythodea
January 29th 2016


4182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like how we both listen to similar bands, but always find something to disagree.

Underflow
January 29th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That does seem to be a trend, haha.

Jethro42
January 29th 2016


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Most of the songs have the potential to be a great song, but they have something irritating in some of their parts. They tried too hard or not enough depending of the song. The only perfect ones I can see are ''Choir of Ancestors'' and ''Alarm'', so I have to bump it down to a 3.5

Mythodea
January 29th 2016


4182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Know Your Time has a sick intro though. And the last one is really good too

Jethro42
January 29th 2016


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree for ''Know your time''. I pretty much like every parts of it except for what I think is the chorus; ''These shadow world appear appear'' etc...it hurts my ears.

The last track is long to make its build up. I like its sounds of the percussions though (the snare). The beat is hypnotizing, but song falls a bit flat imo.





Mythodea
January 29th 2016


4182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hmmm, understood.

Flugmorph
January 29th 2016


17564 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

have to listen to more of their discog.

eaglefan1998
January 29th 2016


152 Comments


yeah, this certainly wasn't a second Demon, but it still is pretty damn great

Jethro42
January 29th 2016


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good thing Myth. I have hard time to understand myself sometimes since English is not my mother tongue ;) By the way, I dig the 2nd part of the t/t.



@Flugmorph, get on ''Night'', ''Tick Tock'' and ''Demon'' if you haven't already.





Mythodea
January 29th 2016


4182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, I think your mother tongue is Spanish? Am I a bit right, at least?

Underflow
January 29th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Demon is phenomenal.

Flugmorph
January 29th 2016


17564 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

loved demon yo

KILL
January 29th 2016


80950 Comments


night>

Digging: Morbid Angel - Kingdoms Disdained

Jethro42
January 29th 2016


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Demon is my 3rd fave right after Night and Tick Tock. I think the latters have more hooks, and so they're better as a starting point imo.

@Myth, you're not too far, I speak French ;)

Flugmorph
January 29th 2016


17564 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah im getting on them



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