Gazpacho
Fireworker


3.0
good

Review

by Johnny[Well] STAFF
September 23rd, 2020 | 40 replies


Release Date: 09/18/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fireworks: don't count your chickens

As someone whose memories of progressive rock are frequently charged with embarrassment or regret, I’ve always found Gazpacho one of the more baggage-free paths of least resistance between the genre’s various avenues of indulgence and appeal. Their scale, tone and conceptual bent have always been decidedly prog, but their songwriting style eschews extravagant moments of misfortune and digressive bullshit almost entirely. Part of it is the clarity of their narratives and part is the relative simplicity and directness of their song structures; the impression you get listening to the likes of Demon or Night compared to whatever your Thank You Scientists or your Karnivools or your post-Mars Voltas have on the table is like the difference between hearing a gifted storyteller weave a spellbinding tale in a candlelit bar and being subjected to a greasy intern in a fluorescent and mostly empty conference room struggling to remember the Reddit-sourced motivational sales pitch that is somehow emerging from between their lips like an oil slick of the sound waves. Their flow is natural and seemingly effortless, yet even at their most expansive and ambitious Gazpacho construct their tracks from a distinctly sparing pool of ideas. Their epics and vignettes alike always follow a clear thread with admirable focus.

This is quite the endorsement, but don’t count your chickens, or Gazpacho’s chickens, or anyone else’s. Their latest effort Fireworker is in some ways a return to (relatively) exciting territory after their competent but largely unmemorable slowburner Soyuz, but there are a couple of Buyer Bewares to slam onto this sales pitch (this is not a sales pitch). Remember that clear thread we covered literally three sentences ago? Um, yeah, about that: it’s pretty much missing here! Maybe not entirely, but it sure as hell does not show up throughout the megagigantic twenty-minute opener “Space Cowboy.” Yes, a twenty-minute opener! The stakes are high! You need a patient audience and many, many spools of clear thread to traverse those kinds of waters. I’m a pretty patient chap when it comes to music not conspicuously built for instant gratification (it’s a dog eat dog world!), and it took me until approximately minute #9 to get over Gazpacho’s typically gorgeous arrangements and airy production and realise that those momentous waves of overdriven guitar distortion (yes.) complete with background choirs are entirely at odds of wherever the song previously felt like it was going, which in turn pales in comparison to the aimlessness of the following strain-your-ears-and-you’ll-hear-a-typical-Gazpacho-song-played-many-decibels-quieter-than-usual verse, which in turn pales into sandwich fodder when the following verse shows up to replace it with a more mysterious tone and superior development.

Ladies, gentlemen, and all in between, we are dealing with an unceremonious, poorly segued composite epic structure. Would all those grumbling that Gazpacho might not technically even be a prog band please take a seat.

If “Space Cowboy”’s momentary hints at intrigue and panoramic - nay, intergalactic! - scope pass in a protracted series of fits and starts, the rest of the album feels like afterthoughts that might in another timeline have been follow-ons from a successful, overpowering thesis track. “Hourglass” and “Antique” are Gazpacho-by-numbers midtempo trudges that don’t have the flair to be graceful or the melodies to be beautiful, while “Fireworker“ is a more forthright outing that wraps surging rises and falls into evasive pacing and a dynamic arrangement with a fair degree of success. This track is a more energetic nod to the tone Gazpacho toyed with on their underrated 2015 release Molok, a rousing fusion of “Know Your Time” and “Bela Kiss” if you will. It isn’t quite enough to set this album ablaze, but it’s a welcome midway gem. However, it takes until the closing epic “Sapien” to get to the real knockout. This track guns for the same maximalist peaks and sudden dips into delicacy that “Space Cowboy” fumbled for, but anchors itself in a far more tangible progression and ends up as the stuff of vintage Gazpacho longform gold. The atmosphere here is a little bold and brazen and perhaps short of the mystery or wistfulness that made their past triumphs in this vein so memorable, but it’s more than adequate as a closing statement to an album as unexpectedly shapeless as this one. Gazpacho’s knack for varied instrumentation and competence as performers is as far above water as ever, but Fireworker is less heat and sparks and more smokey obfuscation of a once unimpeachable focus.




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user ratings (46)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


29357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sorry this is late up; been extremely busy in the last few days and especially today and you're all going to disagree with this anyway, but it is here ok

Digging: Tricot - 10

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


5351 Comments


wow already

wasn't sure if I wanted to check this, you convinced me not too. thank ya wohnnyofthejell


MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


12053 Comments


Can't say I remember this band well, but this sounds rather nebulous unfortunately. Fun little review friendo.

Sunnyvale
September 23rd 2020


1809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to see a review for this, was considering writing one myself. Have to say I like this a lot more though, I think this is a great album right below Gazpacho's top tier of Night, Tick Tock, and Demon.

Mythodea
September 23rd 2020


5319 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It reads more as a 2.5 tbh. I am certainly not amazed by the new album. I don't know what's going on most of the time, and there's no atmosphere. I loved all albums from Night on (even Soyuz was on heavy rotation its first year out), but this is bland. I don't realize it's even finished half of the times.

RabbitSeason
September 23rd 2020


95 Comments


This is basically how I felt after one listen. Just lost. I guess I'll give it a few more tries.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


5351 Comments


wabbit season

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


5237 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I managed to listen to it once, I will do it again before reading the review so I don't get influenced by what you wrote :D I wasn't blown away, but there were some great moments.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

Elynna
September 23rd 2020


587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's a bit inconsistent in terms of quality, but a step up from Soyuz

Digging: Wobbler - Dwellers of the Deep

LeddSledd
September 23rd 2020


1433 Comments


"whatever your Thank You Scientists or your Karnivools or your post-Mars Voltas have on the table"

huh :-(

Digging: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2020


29357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

looks like gazpacho have a new patron on their prescription list

CosmicPie
September 23rd 2020


2702 Comments


Love this band, man. Will be jammin

Storm In A Teacup
September 24th 2020


30766 Comments


Trust johnny or trust the 3.9 average...

hmmm...

i'm rolling with johnny

Digging: Envy - The Fallen Crimson

Eghosis
September 24th 2020


2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Terrible take. This is their best album since Demon easily. Sounds like you got hard filtered by the opening track. You praised "Soyuz Out" when this is literally it but better.

Storm In A Teacup
September 24th 2020


30766 Comments


^this is what I'm expecting for my Big Sean review, 1 comment accounts that 100% object lol

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2020


29357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lmao. Tbf I hope this doesn't put that many people off bc the band is solid and I can see some of y'all vibing with this, but it ain't a patch on Demon, Molok or Night for me

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2020


21960 Comments


Starting with a 20 minute track is a bold move, but I believe in these guys. Will report back!

Digging: Crippled Black Phoenix - Ellengaest

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2020


19002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Last track is easily the best. Good review, I agree!

Digging: Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez

Mad.
September 24th 2020


4828 Comments


Nice to see this reviewed, feel like these guys kinda lost it after Demon though : /

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2020


5237 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The album is good, but a bit Gazpacho by the numbers. I agree with Mad, Demon was their last amazing LP for me. Molok had some excellent tunes, but wore off faster than I expected.



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