For nearly twenty years, Gazpacho have reigned as the kings of atmospheric and affective art rock. That’s certainly no small feat, as the subgenre is full of wonderfully moody, ornate, and emotional artists; yet, none of them manage to achieve the same level of exquisite baroque resonance and hypnotically introspective weight as the Norwegian sextet. As a result, they never fail to provide awe-inspiring examinations of the human condition, and their latest observation, Fireworker, is no exception. It is undoubtedly among their greatest achievements, as well as one of the most profound pieces of music you’ll hear in 2020.
Conceptually, the album follows the band’s tradition of blending grand philosophical quandaries, stimulating literary leanings, and haunting personal turmoil. In a way, it acts as the culmination of the themes and techniques that’ve decorated earlier collections, combining the fatalistic isolation of Night and Missa Atropos; the ill-fated narrative drama of Tick Tockand Soyuz; and the hefty theological/scientific contemplations of Demon and Molok. Beyond that, its central premise (that humanity has always been controlled by an infallible and omniscient creature determined to propagate at any cost) means that Fireworker comes across like the overarching umbrella under which all of its predecessors occur.
Keyboardist Thomas Andersen elucidates: “There’s an instinctual part of you that lives inside your mind, separate from your consciousness. I call it the ‘Fireworker’ or the ‘Lizard’ or the ‘Space Cowboy.’ It’s an eternal and unbroken lifeforce that’s survived every generation, with a new version in each of us. It’s evolved alongside our consciousness, and it can override us and control all of our actions.” In order to get us to do what it wants, he clarifies, the “Fireworker” will silence the parts of our mind that feel disgust or remorse so that we’re unable to stop it. The conscious part of our mind, Andersen notes, will actually “rationalize and legitimize” those thoughts and actions so that we never discover the beast behind-the-scenes. No matter how we feel about ourselves in terms of identity, accomplishments, and value, we’re all just vessels—or “Sapiens”—that the creature uses until it no longer needs us. “If you play along,” Andersen explains, “It’ll reward you like a puppy and let you feel fantastic; if you don’t, it’ll punish you severely.”
Like Night, Fireworker is a single “trip” broken into five chapters but meant to be appreciated all at once. This time, however, Gazpacho’s recurring protagonist is investigating the labyrinthian hive of his own psyche to engage in a Bergman-esque confrontation with the “Fireworker.” This journey is even represented by the Wimmelbilder cover, which, as usual, was designed by collaborator Antonio Seijas and depicts “the billions of neurons that create the cave of the mind”.
Fireworker declares its mesmeric dominance right away via “Space Cowboy,” a side-long suite whose ominous lyricism (“The parasite / That lives in me / Murders words / From where I stop / And it breathes in / We’re biting our tail / The cycle begins”) is but one of many reasons why it’s among Gazpacho’s greatest compositions. From its heartbreakingly delicate first movement and chaotic centerpiece, to its mournfully symphonic penultimate phase and thunderous outro, it is a masterpiece onto itself, cementing how vivacious, evocative, and imaginative Gazpacho remain after all these years.
From there, the sequence remains just as seductively eccentric and beautiful. In particular, “Hourglass” is a gorgeous piano ballad that evokes March of Ghosts in its fusion of welcoming melodies and gentle orchestral flourishes. That then make way for the feisty layers and catchy hooks of the band’s first single and title track “Fireworker.” Fittingly, “Antique” takes over with angelic mystery and the album closer “Sapien,” echoes the dynamic range and epic scope of “Space Cowboy,” resulting in an awe-inspiring finale that envelops you in luscious arrangements and poignant existential realizations.
Naturally, Gazpacho’s career has been full of great performances and glowing praise. Outside of issuing three superb live LPs (2010’s A Night at the Loreley, 2011’s London, and 2015’s Night of the Demon), they’ve played festivals such as Be Prog! My Friend, Night of the Prog, Midsummer Prog Festival, and Cruise to the Edge, where they delighted audiences alongside exceptional brethren like iamthemorning, Anathema, Pain of Salvation, Caligula’s Horse, Riverside, The Neal Morse Band, and Steve Hackett. Unsurprisingly, their records have been met with similarly enthusiastic reception; for instance, their previous statement, 2018’s Soyuz, earned superlative accolades from publications such as PROG, Echoes and Dust and Louder than War.
Fireworker is truly a life-changing experience, so you would be wise to turn off all of the lights, clear your mind as best you can, and prepare to meet the Fireworker.
Fireworker will be released on Kscope on 18th September, on CD, a gatefold 2LP on 180g black vinyl (3 sides audio, 1 side art etching) and digitally (digital pre-orders receive the title track “Fireworker” as an instant download) and is available to pre-order HERE (https://gazpacho.lnk.to/Fireworker)
GAZPACHO LIVE Sadly, due to the current covid-19 situation the band’s European and UK dates scheduled for October 2020 have been postponed to October 2021, but as the band didn’t want to disappoint their fans Gazpacho are planning to play Fireworker in its entirety via a livestream, alongside a Q&A about the concept plus will play a few favourites from their repertoire. Details of the streaming event and the rescheduled tour will follow soon
In the meantime, they suggest, you should internalize the record as much as possible to eventually “research your own ‘Space Cowboy.’” Anderson adds: “It’s an attempt at a safe way of looking at something highly dangerous because the animal does not understand music or poetry. We’re trying to outsmart it by writing around it, as music can go places words can’t and there’s a magic to it all.”
Gazpacho are: Thomas Andersen – keyboards, programming Jan-Henrik Ohme – vocals Jon-Arne Vibo – guitars Mikael Krømer – violin, additional guitars Kristian “Fido” Torp – bass Robert R Johansen – drums
Riding the waves of his success with Anathema’s latest album The Optimist, which included an extensive headline tour, multiple summer music festivals and an Album of the Year nomination at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards, Daniel Cavanagh released his new solo album, Monochrome. Now he includes four new studio recordings featuring two completely new songs “Found” and “Scandinavia” on this special extended edition of the album.
Inspired by internal feelings of love and loss, Monochrome is a deeply reflective and personal offering. Cavanagh elaborates: “The album has a late-night, candlelit feeling, evoking the light of dusk as the summer sun sinks below the horizon, setting the scene for thoughts and meditations that many people will relate to.
“A lot of this material could easily have made it on to the last Anathema album or any future album; that’s how highly the band rate it. There are several highlights: “The Exorcist” and “The Silent Flight of the Raven Winged Hours” are among some of my best works of the last decade. Taking them from the band was not an easy decision but I am glad; they’re so personal as to not need more input.”
Monochrome features Anneke Van Giersbergen – ex-vocalist for The Gathering, who has since sung with Amadeus Awad, Devin Townsend, Árstíðir, Anathema, and Arjen Lucassen – and the exceptionally talented Anna Phoebe provides violin on three of the album tracks.
Recorded at Grammy Award-winning Parr Street Studios, engineered by Andrea Wright, mastered by Anathema’s Daniel Cardoso, and with artwork by illustrator Danny Branscombe, this album is a special addition to the Kscope family. Released as a CD presented in a digipack packaging complete with a 12-page booklet.
Tracklisting 1. The Exorcist (6:43) 2. This Music (4:50) 3. Soho (7:39) 4. The Silent Flight Of The Raven Winged Hours (9:03) 5. Dawn (2:42) 6. Oceans Of Time (8:14) 7. Some Dreams Come True (8:34)
Bonus Tracks 8. The Exorcist (Acoustic) (5:59) 9. The Silent Flight of the Raven Winged Hours (Acoustic) (7:07) 10. Found (5:09) 11. Scandinavia (7:47)
Band reveal first single and video for “Denigrate” (feat. Daniel Tompkins)
Godsticks open 2020 with their new and most accomplished studio album, Inescapable. Their mix of heavy rock, progressive and alternative metal with a dynamic range of angular riffs and emotional depth will leave listeners reeling. The band’s sound has refined over their releases on Kscope, beginning with the technically astounding metal on Emergence to the more industrial and progressive-influenced Faced With Rage. Now, with Inescapable, the band have channeled their energy and technical ability into the melody, phrasing and vocal performance, allowing emotion to take center stage.
The band found themselves wanting a definitive theme running through Inescapable, without turning it into a concept album, of being more open, more personal and ultimately one that shines an inquisitive light on Charles’s struggle with inner demons which gave the songs a new level of intimacy. “Lyrically, I’ve always shared personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences but in a very ambiguous way. For Inescapable – in a conscious effort not to repeat ourselves – I thought I’d be a little more self-reflective and perhaps examine some of my inner demons. I have a strange relationship with music, and especially playing guitar. I would struggle to survive without either, but equally, they have made my life mentally torturous because my own self-worth is completely wrapped up in them. I used to be very much a perfectionist in my early years, and whilst some people may wear that as a badge of honor, I eventually viewed it as a huge heavyweight dragging down. It was a long time before I arrived at the realization that perfection was impossible to achieve.” elaborates Darran Charles.
Perfectly highlighting the album’s leitmotif, the band reveals their first single “Denigrate”, “the writing of this song was a sort of analysis of my ongoing battle with perfectionism and the general feeling that nothing you do ever meets the impossibly high standards you set for yourself”. The song features additional vocals from TesseracT’s gifted vocalist Daniel Tompkins to record vocal harmonies, adding an extra layer of aggression and energy.
The shoot for the quirky video, directed by George Laycock (Blacktide Audio/Visual) proved to be a memorable day for the band as Godsticks drummer Tom Price recalls “Everyone in the band was so excited about the concept, but when we arrived on set and saw a large table full of cakes, sweets, chocolate, sugar, sprinkles, honey and all manners of confectionary, the magnitude of what we had all let ourselves in for finally dawned on us! By the end of the shoot we were completely covered in everything – it was like ‘The Great British Bake Off’ meets ‘Apocalypse Now’! It was so much fun to make, but despite several spins in the washing machine I still can‘t get that sweet sickly smell out of my jeans!” Charles chimes in “It wasn’t fun, it was horrible!”
Inescapable was produced by James Loughrey (Skindred) and recorded at the famed heritage Monnow Valley studio.
Godsticks are supporting the new material beginning in April with a UK tour followed by summer festivals
2/4/2020 – Cardiff – Fuel Rock Club 3/4/2020 – London – Black Heart 4/4/2020 – Edinburgh – Opium 5/4/2020 – Manchester – Gullivers
Following the release of Dissolution,The Pineapple Thief announce their new concert album Hold Our Fire captured during their 16-date European headline tour in September 2018.
Holding up a mirror to our chaotic, social media-fixated society, Dissolution is a modern masterpiece that pulses with charged emotion – the perfect album for the times.
Hold Our Fire features eight concert performances of Dissolution tracks, including the singles “Far Below“, “Try As I Might“, “Threatening War” & “Uncovering Your Tracks“, as well as “3000 Days” from 2010 studio album Someone Here is Missingwith extra guitars from new guitarist George Marios.
The band’s virtuoso drummer, also known for his work with Porcupine Tree and King Crimson, Gavin Harrison reveals more about their performances for Hold Our Fire“I feel this live recording really captures the energy and spirit of the band playing together in front of a great enthusiastic crowd.”
It’s a feeling shared by frontman, composer and guitarist Bruce Soord“It’s a great souvenir from such a memorable tour. I am really looking forward to taking the show over to North America in November and mixing the record reminded me just how much fun we have playing live.”
1. Try As I Might (live) [04:49] 2. Threatening War (live) [06:43] 3. Uncovering Your Tracks (live) [04:38] 4. All That You`ve Got (live) [03:26] 5. Far Below (live) [04:46] 6. Not Naming Any Names (live) [02:16] 7. White Mist (live) [10:35] 8. Shed A Light (live) [05:44] 9. 3000 Days (live) [07:17]
Bruce Soord – guitars and vocals Gavin Harrison – drums Jon Sykes – bass Steve Kitch – keyboards George Marios – guitars and backing vocals (live)
Mixed by Bruce Soord (drums mixed by Gavin Harrison)Mastering by Steve Kitch
Following the success of IAMTHEMORNING’s two studio albums for Kscope – Belighted, the award winning Lighthouse and their most recent live studio film Ocean Sounds, the Russian duo, comprising of virtuoso classical pianist Gleb Kolyadin and charismatic vocalist Marjana Semkina are releasing their new album entitled The Bell on 2nd August.
Their dedication to writing forward-thinking and thought-provoking music sees the duo create a new album of impressive depth and playability. A modern blend of rock, classical and folk, The Bell makes use of 19th Century song cycles – a style established by Schubert – that cohesively tells 10 individual stories.
Vocalist Marjana Semkina explains in more detail “The Bell is divided into two parts but each song is a story in its own right, all of them are fuelled by human cruelty and pain caused by it. Cruelty is the central theme of the album – together with all the different ways we respond to it and cope with it. This album is multi-layered and is, in many ways, a journey inwards, taking us inside of a mind of a person suffering from abuse or neglect or open hostility of the society or a specific person.
“Aesthetically, the album is based on themes taken from Victorian England’s art and culture, but more in a way of turning our attention to the fact that at its core, humankind isn’t making much progress in terms of emotional maturity.”
The Bell was recorded in March 2019 across Russia, the UK and Canada in several studios: Mosfilm in Moscow; Lendoc and Red Wave in St Petersburg; Noatune in London; The Studio at Sunbeams, Penrith; and Union Sound Company in Toronto. With engineering and mastering handled by Vlad Avy.
The beautiful album artwork for The Bell was created by the band’s favoured collaborator Constantine Nagishkin. Marjana explains the imagery “on the cover is a safety coffin bell – it’s a 19th century idea born from people’s obsessive fear of being buried alive, having been provoked by a lot of press attention to supposed cases of premature burials across the country. and the fact that Edgar Allan Poe frightened many readers by vividly describing the premature burial phenomenon in his short stories.
“One of the inventions to escape such a terrifying ordeal was a so called “safety coffin” that existed in many different configurations, including the one that had a bell attached to the gravestone with a thread that was attached to it and went all the way underground into the coffin so that the when the poor soul awoke and on realizing he’s been buried alive, could ring to let the people outside know what has happened.
“Although the idea is a bit morbid I feel there is hope in the artwork too – no matter how low you are or desperate you think your situation is, you can still call for help, but more than that you have to call for help if you need it”
1. Freak Show [07:09] 2. Sleeping Beauty [03:42] 3. Blue Sea [03:08] 4. Black And Blue [03:58] 5. Six Feet [03:56] 6. Ghost Of A Story [03:58] 7. Song Of Psyche [03:20] 8. Lilies[04:28] 9. Salute [07:27] 10. The Bell [05:04]
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