June 27, 2012

Review: Gazpacho-March Of Ghosts

What a name. Gazpacho is more commonly known as a cold vegetable soup from Spain. It’s completely unrelated to a band from Norway making light, emotional music.

At least the album title reflects the music. March Of Ghosts really is what mental picture this album evokes.
This album is a collection of Ghosts’ stories from the past, being told one after the other. They march on by, telling their tales to you, hence the album’s name.

I quite like how they create music that is easy to get lost in. All the delayed guitars, ethnic idioms, and restraint add up to make something that whispers at you to listen.

With a quiet album like this, more work can be needed to find all the little intricacies that make it so brilliant. It’s a good challenge, not just for the listener but also for the artist; if they’re not careful, then they’ll just write a slow, monotonous, and forgettable album. But that’s not the case here.

Is that a bagpipe solo in “Hell Freezes Over II”? Sounds like it to me. Very cool. There’s a kind of dark, Gaelic jig in the first few moments of “Gold Star,” and later on something that sounds like a music box. “Mary Celeste” has another dance–like part in it, and its melody is very catchy. “What Did I Do” somehow feels weightless. If it were represented by a physical, three–dimensional object, it would gently float in midair. It best represents the Ghosts the album tries to evoke. The beginning to “Golem” is a little bit darker, more foreboding than the others, but it’s nowhere near nightmarish or heavy. In general this song feels like there’s more drive behind it, but just enough to keep it moving and no more.

There are catchier, more approachable albums, and there are those who incorporate more vast influences, and use every instrument known to man, but those albums can also have a feel of overcompensation, like the band tried too hard. This isn’t like that; it feels like the band found the happy medium between too much and not enough effort.

This is an album that does just about everything it wants to well. It’s not a clone of anything I can think of, though if I had to compare it to a preexisting album it’d be Opeth’s Damnation. It’s not too deep for a layperson to take on, nor is it too simple for musical elitists to turn a blind eye to. And in a way, the band’s name is kind of interesting because of how unrelated it is. It keeps your attention throughout by just enough, and that’s all it needs. Not only does it do things right, it crucially doesn’t do anything wrong. It’s a quiet masterpiece; I can think of no praise better than that.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Gold Star, What Did I Do?, Golem

Daniel Erickson

 

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