For nearly twenty years, Gazpacho have reigned as the kings of atmospheric and affective art rock. Now comes their latest release titled ‘Fireworker’ due out on Sept. 18th, 2020 on Kscope Records. Listen to the title track here:
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 Tock and 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.
1. Space Cowboy [19:43]
2. Hourglass [04:15]
3. Fireworker [04:41]
4. Antique [06:24]
5. Sapien [15:22]
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