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Gazpacho: Fireworker

Are you controlled? Well, if Fireworker from Gazpacho is anything to go by, then yes you are. After all, the Fireworker, or “Space Cowboy” (although from the album art he looks like The Very Hungry Caterpillar on an angry kind of day) as he goes by in 20 minute track that opens this album, is the entity holding the strings that guide is through every day life, even if we don’t realise it. We’re playthings, puppets even, never truly fashioning our own destiny. Maybe this band know what they’re talking about…?

Well, they certainly know what this album is all about, the mood and tone created enough to truly inveigle you into the Gazpacho way of thinking. Never harsh but somehow never smooth, the whole feel of what this album, well, actually this band, are about is to lull you and then crush you. Nothing is overly subtle and yet nor is anything overtly aggressive, however, somehow you completely buy into slow unwindings of inner emotion that creep up on you before completely enveloping your senses. To put such a forceful, grand piece front and centre as the album opener could be seen as bold but with the much shorter “Hourglass” following in equally enigmatic style, you quickly realise that while Fireworker takes a little time to truly break down, it’s unwillingness to compromise is one of its main strengths.

Interestingly, the album’s title cut adds a tribal element that you hadn’t expected, the Norwegian outfit always able to suddenly inject a little groove into their otherwise bleak appeal. With popping drums and guitar lines that verge on jaunty, it’s left here to singer Jan-Henrik Ohme to show his versatility, as Gazpacho almost, but not quite, go pop music. Arriving at the album’s mid-point, it’s a clever set changer, the overbearing tones allowed to lift before tick-tocking (apologies for the pun, long term fans) back into place through the hypnotic “Antique”.

One of the main aspects of this work that has really pulled me in is the way in which everything seems to balance and connect, the chiming introduction to “Sapien” reminiscent of much of what has come before, without simply repeating it, but then most of this band’s albums feeling much more like singular pieces of work than they do a collection of songs on a CD. Admittedly, the influence of Marillion - a band that have taken Gazpacho out with them on tour on occasion - is maybe a little too strong here but then there’s no denying that once the big-boy guitars cut in, those similarities quickly drop away as the second epic of Fireworker quickly locks into place.

One of the less celebrated progressive acts of the last couple of decades, Gazpacho have always been - and remain - one of its most consistent performers. This latest offering is up there as one of their best and as such comes highly recommended.

Track Listing
1. Space Cowboy
2. Hourglass
3. Fireworker
4. Antique
5. Sapien

Added: February 20th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Gazpacho online
Hits: 221
Language: english

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