Gazpacho - 'March Of Ghosts'

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Gazpacho - 'March Of Ghosts'

Needs a time and commitment from the listener to absorb and appreciate it.

I’m a ‘Johnny Come Lately’ to Gazpacho as this is their seventh studio album and I only bought their live ‘London’ CD recently.

Their style is a kind of chilled out Prog with overtones of the likes of Marillion, Anathema, RPWL, Sylvan, Riverside and Radiohead to their sound and song structures, albeit the use of violin gives them a distinctive edge. There’s not a great deal about their music that will have you tapping your foot or get your head banging because it’s all quite subtle, often dreamy and certainly atmospheric with the songs being built in gentle fashion with layers being added much like a cinematic soundtrack where a mood is being created. Consequently, the band’s music needs a time and commitment from the listener to absorb and appreciate it. I don’t think this is an album that many will listen to once and proclaim it as a masterpiece but if one perseveres I believe you will be well rewarded.

In places there is a striking similarity to the sound and song structures used by Marillion, a little too close one might argue. Like the Sylvan CD reviewed elsewhere in this issue there are certain passages that if you played it to a room full of people I’d wager many would think they were listening to a preview of Marillion’s next release.

‘Monument’ is a fine opening shot, a short and moody instrumental with a mournful violin conjuring thoughts of a desolate landscape to me as it plays over the top of Pink Floyd-like keyboards, a comparison which is only heightened when the guitar kicks in as the track segues in ‘Hell Freezes Over I’ (HFO) the repeated guitar motif getting a bit repetitive for my taste.‘HFO II’ is an energetic piece which features what I assume to be traditional pipe sounds, thus giving a Mostly Autumn feel. The track has a strong melody as does the following ‘Black Lily’ that makes me think of a restrained Muse. The song’s delicious power comes from the strength of the arrangement rather than heavy playing and it’s therefore one of the album’s highlights. The acoustic guitar and violin driven ‘Gold Star’ starts with a Middle Eastern feel before taking on a different guise as the electric instruments join in.

My favourite track, thanks to a good arrangement, is ‘Mary Celeste’ which starts with a piano and acoustic guitar theme that is then built upon by the drums and other instruments until the energy picks up a bit for a fine bridge/chorus. A plaintive violin is the precursor to the big finish with the Celtic feel given to it by the use of recorders which reminds me of early Mostly Autumn albums. ‘What Did I Do?’ is pure Marillion; ‘Golem’ features a brooding menace appropriate to its title and a super guitar solo. The album closes with ‘HFO IV’ which is pretty heavy in comparison with the rest of the album.

Gary Marshall

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