Title - 'Fireworker'
Artist - Gazpacho
For those not in the know, for nearly twenty years, Gazpacho have reigned as the kings of atmospheric and affective art rock.
That’s certainly no small feat, as the subgenre is full of wonderfully moody, ornate, and emotional artists; yet, none of them manage to achieve the same level of exquisite baroque resonance and hypnotically introspective weight as the Norwegian sextet.
As a result, they never fail to provide awe-inspiring examinations of the human condition, and their latest observation, Fireworker (out now via Kscope Records) is no exception.
For it is undoubtedly among their greatest achievements, as well as bring one of the most profound pieces of music you’ll hear in 2020.
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.
1. 'Space Cowboy'
Fireworker is a single “trip” broken into five chapters but meant to be appreciated all at once and, unlike Night, is one where Gazpacho’s recurring protagonist is investigating the labyrinthian hive of his own psyche to engage in a Bergman-esque confrontation with the “Fireworker.”
Indeed, 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”.
That all said, and taking the album track-by-track, this magnificent opus opens with 'Space Cowboy.' The so-called "inner battle" of the album, it features alternating layers of choral arrangements and vocal meanderings, whilst always enticing us to hang on in there; no matter how many supposed endings they tease.
Up next is the slower 'Hourglass,' chock full of beautiful ambiance and stunning, fluent and magical orchestrations galore, especially come its finale, that is then backed by the title track itself, 'Fireworker,' a folk-rock sound, if you will, and one that leans into a heavier stance than the band are usually known for at times, but one with a definitive cinematic scope to it.
We then get the dulcet melodies of 'Antique,' which features some gorgeous, supple, and even artful early '80s subtle electronica rhythms, with the album coming to a close on the ten minute epic, 'Sapien,' a reserved work, for the most part, sure, but one that still ebbs and flows accordingly to its very own operatic heartbeat, nonetheless.
In closing, Fireworker is truly life-changing experience, so you would be wise to turn off all of the lights, clear your mind as best you can, and prepare to meet the Fireworker.
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.”
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