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Gazpacho: Soyuz

That Gazpacho have surpassed twenty years as a band seems quite incredible and I have to say that for an outfit who have across that time been more nearly men than the main event, that they keep producing enigmatic albums that refuse to simply conform, is possibly their grandest feat. Soyuz continues the theme. Not so much a concept album as a collection of songs based round the search for the moment, the desire to seek out the days where everything clicked and hold them dear and, as so many bands seem to these days, songs which talk about isolation. It makes for deep, moody fare and musically things are perfectly matched to those ideals, deep sweeps of sound with elements that lift the spirits and others that dash them against the shore, being the ebb and flow of Gazpacho.

As the header prog grows ever broader, so bands like this, who don’t have any desire to chisel away at their idiosyncrasies so they can slot neatly into the genre box, continue to build sounds that in truth don’t really fit into the world of prog at all. Gently avant-garde, brushing against art-rock, whatever they may be, Gazpacho have the ability to begin with broad brush strokes of colour (albeit it often a melancholy sepia tone) and then start to pick out the detail. Deep melodies and interesting little guitar lines often floating past in such a way that they are equally likely to stir deep in the consciousness as they are to stand boldly in the forefront of your mind.

Whether through the loosely Marillion like “Soyuz Out” or the bleak sweeps of “Rappaccini” you’ll encounter fragile heartbreaks of vocals, the pitter patter of synths and keys working alongside violin that builds the tension and smooths the way. “Emperor Bespoke” is as near to a jaunty sing along as Soyuz offers up, but at nearly eight minutes long and operating at a snail’s pace, a pop hit from the 80s this is not. Although that doesn’t stop it from delighting as it suggests of a full-band music box slowly spinning to delight those who stare agog as the silver beauty dances for them without ever really moving at all. It’s this fragility which has become ever more the Gazpacho trademark, bold cuts with real depth eked out with a deceptive brittleness that never really reveals the song’s inner strengths until you have lived with them for a serious time.

That’s Gazpacho and that’s Soyuz. A trick of the hand that delights in the ear and one which makes you think about the outside world in the most inward searching of ways. That it is all carried out with unquestioned beauty and grace is what keeps you coming back for more.

Track Listing
1. Soyuz One
2. Hypomania
3. Exit Suite
4. Emperor Bespoke
5. Sky Burial
6. Fleeting Things
7. Soyuz Out
8. Rappaccini

Added: September 23rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Gazpacho World
Hits: 2252
Language: english

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Gazpacho: Soyuz
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-09-23 06:15:19
My Score:

Soyuz is the title of Norway’s Gazpacho, there tenth release since there 2003 debut. I have been a relatively late newcomer to the band having discovered them around three of four years ago and have a long way to go to catch up with all their releases. Those I have heard have been impressive, Demon and Marching Of Ghosts to name two but this latest disc is my favourite thus far.

Gazpacho are masters at building tension in subtle and creative ways never making it obvious to the listener. Much of the time the soundscapes can be slow and ethereal, with a heavy dose of melancholia, including the vocals of Jan Henrik Ohme. He has a beautiful laid back delivery. He might be hard to understand at times, a sort of slow drawl, but his voice is just so melodic you can’t help but appreciate his skills.

The first track “Soyuz One” begins with electronic percussion and cool effects. Some neat sound construction here as it gets slightly heavier then eases off. The music has some Marillion-like qualities, quite subtle and easy flowing. Through the calm a burst of heavy guitars adds to the drama and back and forth it goes, this transformation between heavy and light. “Hypomania” begins with ringing guitar notes and as the song builds in loudness Radiohead certainly came to mind. The sound gets quite dense and again the heavy riffs make an appearance. “Exit Suite” is stark and moody with superb lead vocals recalling something Anathema might do.

Eventually we get to the thirteen minute epic “Soyuz Out”. The moody and whispered effects successfully interpret the first failed Soyuz mission where cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov lost his life and distorted beats emphasize the underlying tension. The tempo is slow and brooding before heavier guitars are interjected in a seamless fashion. The guitar even gets a little doomy and the ambient interludes are suitably spacey given the song’s context. Our journey ends with the pretty “Rappaccini”, a lovely finish to what is an excellent modern progressive/art rock album. Music this creative deserves an audience which I am sure many of our readers will quickly oblige.

A Kscope Music release.

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