Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gazpacho: "The Wizard of Altai Mountains" (from Demon)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'll start this post the same way I started my last (and before this one, only) post about about this incredible band:

One question I get a lot is, "What's your favorite band from Norway?" I always reply, "Gazpacho, of course. They're amazing. Not just my favourite Norwegian band but one of my favorite bands period. If you've never heard them, you're really missing out."

Okay, I've never gotten that question. But the rest is true.

I love Gazpacho more than ever.

They've released eight studio albums. The first three are good, if somewhat derivative (as they were still finding their voice), but the five since -- Night (2007), Tick Tock (2009), Missa Atropos (2010), March of Ghosts (2012), and Demon (2014) -- are simply astounding, each one a masterpiece, each one a brilliant conceptual work, all together marking this band, straddling themes and genres, as one of the leading voices in progressive, or more specifically post-progressive, music. This is the sort of run of excellence that puts them up there with Porcupine Tree and Anathema. Yes, they're that good.

Demon was released on March 17. Here's what it's about:

Demon is inspired by a conversation Thomas [Andersen] had with his father a few years ago where he spoke of a dark force moving through history. During the conversation his father recalled a business visit to Prague in the seventies where he visited the family of some of his hosts.

The family lived in an old apartment, recently renovated after a fire. In the debris, an old manuscript was found. The manuscript was written by a previous resident, for which no records existed other than that his rent had been pre-paid for many years...

The manuscript contained various ramblings and diagrams which formed the basis of a diary, of sorts, of the man. He claimed to have discovered the source of what he called an evil presence in the world. This presence, 'The Demon', was an actual intelligent will, with no mercy and a desire for bad things to happen. The author wrote as if he had lived for thousands of years stalking this presence and the manuscript contains references to outdated branches of mathematics, pagan religions unknown to the present world and an eyewitness account of the bubonic plague. So crazed were the writings that the document was donated to the Strahov Library in Prague, where it was thought it would be of interest to students of psychiatry...

The story is told in four parts, ending with 'Death Room' which are the last words of the unfinished manuscript written just before the disappearance of the unknown writer.

Yes, it's bizarre and strange and disturbing and... brilliant. Here is "The Wizard of Altai Mountains," which musically is much less dark than the rest of the album, along with an album trailer from Kscope. Enjoy!


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