Jul 22, 2018

GAZPACHO - Missa Atropos (HWT Records, no number, 2010)

"Missa Atropos" is the sixth studio album by Norwegian rock band Gazpacho. The album released on September 15, 2010 in Norwegia by HWT Records and it released in United Kingdom and worldwide on March 22, 2011 by Kscope. In the early days of 2010 a replacement for recently departed drummer Robert R Johansen was found in Lars Erik Asp, just in time for him to get to know the music before the second part of the "Tick Tock" tour kicks in. It was planned to again visit 6 countries in the March/April period but due to a plane tragedy in Poland giving rise to a week of mourning the Polish promoter decided to postpone the concerts planned for Poland on 16–18 April. The dates were rescheduled for September 2010. On 1 May 2010 the first concert in the USA took place as part of a prog festival at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. For the later German/Italian festivals and the Polish gigs in September they hired a stand-in guitarist by the name of Micheal Krumins to cover for Jon-Arne following the arrival of his first child and his decision to give priority to his family. Meanwhile, in July 2010 the band announced that they should still go on without Robert Johanson and recording of the new album is almost over and it will be out by the end of the year. they also revealed the name of the album a month after that during a gig.

During the Tick Tock Tour on September gigs, pre printed copies of the new album "Missa Atropos" were available to the present audience. And even before the official release of the new album (November 26) it was already number 1 charted at a Dutch prog site in October and November. The new album is intended to be another album in the series of films without pictures that they started back in 2007 with "Night". In other words, a concept album intended to give the listener a chance to take some time off from the world. In December 2010, Gazpacho brought the news that they have licensed "Missa Atropos" to Kscope in the UK. They will have the rights to the album worldwide. The new album was accompanied by a 12 gig tour in 5 different countries in January / February 2011.

Gazpacho are an art rock band from Oslo, Norway. The original core band of Jan-Henrik Ohme (vocals), Jon-Arne Vilbo (guitars) and Thomas Andersen (keyboards, programming, producer) started making music together in 1996 and the band has since expanded with Mikael Krømer (violin, co-producer), Robert R Johansen (drums) and Kristian Torp (bass). Gazpacho's music has been described by one critic as being "classical post ambient nocturnal atmospheric neo-progressive folk world rock". The music has been compared to A-ha, Radiohead, Marillion and Porcupine Tree. Childhood friends Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen had played together in a band called Delerium before, which in their own words "whittled away." After several years of separation, the two friends met again and started making music together again. Andersen had met Jan-Henrik Ohme through his work as radio commercial producer and brought him into the jam sessions, which laid the foundation for Gazpacho as it exists today. The band name comes from an attempt to describe their music. Andersen: "We are a very unlikely mixture of people really, not the average types you'd expect to see in the same band, so we thought Gazpacho, which really is the bastard of soups (meshed up vegetables served cold), was the perfect name for our group. With Gazpacho you get a surprise, something unexpected, something out of the norm, a 'positive' contradiction. We feel this describes our band very well."

Roy Funner played bass on the finished recordings of the band, though he wasn't part of the writing process. For the drum tracks a computer was used. For two years the band worked on a concept album Random Access Memory; a piece of work which they discarded altogether when they felt they had not yet reached the level of musical maturity for such an ambitious project. All three members of Gazpacho were involved with the Scandinavian branch of Marillion's The Web fanclub. This led to Ohme being invited to sing the Marillion track "Afraid Of Sunlight" at the Swap, The Band show of the first Marillion Convention Weekend. At this convention the band handed out free four-track promos called "Get It While It's Cold" to anyone interested. These promos also found their way to several internet magazines which gave the band almost unanimous acclaim with one reviewer calling the music expertly-crafted and truly inventive. In May 2002 the band entered a song contest on Make-A-Star with the song "Sea Of Tranquility" and won. Their second entry, "Ghost" made it to second position, but was enough to gain them the opportunity to release an album through MP3.com. "Get It While It's Cold (37°C)" contained three tracks of the promo EP and three new tracks. One of these new tracks, "Nemo" saw the band winning the Make-A-Star contest for a second time. The release of the EP continued to garner the band international acclaim.

In 2003 the band released their first proper album "Bravo", which contained five of the six tracks off the MP3.com album, and six new compositions. Utilizing the possibilities of the Internet the band had teamed up with the American singer/songwriter fellow Make-A-Star contestee Esther Valentine and New Zealand producer Peter Kearns. Valentine sang a duet with Ohme on the song "Novgorod" (which she also co-wrote) and Kearns produced two of the tracks off "Bravo". "Bravo" gained the band more international acclaim, with Dutch leading music magazine Oor stating "their debut album is a rare beauty". The band was invited to perform at the second Marillion Convention Weekend. For their live band the band was further expanded with drummer Geir Digernes (who had also played drums on some of the tracks on "Bravo") and for the performance of the title track they were joined by Mikael Krømer (violin) and Kristian Skedsmo (flute). The performance at the Convention Weekend led to a support slot on Marillion's 31-date European Marbles tour around 11 countries, further raising the profile of the band. For this tour Robert Johansen joined the band as the new drummer, and Mikael Krømer and Kristian Skedsmo also joined the live line-up. Prior to the tour the band released their second full-length album, "When Earth Lets Go", giving them enough material for their live repertoire. On "When Earth Lets Go" the band collaborated with producer Steve Lyon (Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode, The Cure) who had agreed to produce one track "Substitute for Murder" to see if he could potentially interest any labels. Despite Lyon's involvement, the increased awareness after the Marillion, and more rave reviews on their album the band was not able to secure a record deal.

In the end their friends among Marillion came to the rescue offering Gazpacho the chance to release their next album on the band's own Racket Records label. Racket released the band's third album "Firebird" and re-released "Bravo" and "When Earth Lets Go". The support of Marillion also led to the collaboration with guitarist Steve Rothery who plays a solo on the track "Do You Know What You Are Saying". Other guest appearances on the album came in the form of fans who had been encouraged to send in sound samples which the band would use. Among the unusual instruments featured on the album are maracas, a comb and a Leopard II battle tank. Roy Funner had left the band after the 2004 tour to focus more on his family and he was replaced by Kristian Torp. With the new line-up the band supported Marillion once more on 4 gigs during the Not Quite Christmas Tour. After this tour Kristian Skedsmo announced he no longer wanted to go on prolonged tours away from home and the live line-up was reduced to a six-piece band. After a year of silence "Night" was released in February 2007. For this occasion the band was once more invited to appear at the Marillion's Convention Weekend, this time in The Netherlands. The band also played their first international headlining gig at the Boerderij in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands on 1 February 2007. "Night" shows a departure of the short song format of the previous albums, but instead consists of one long 50-minute conceptual piece, divided into five parts. In the words of the band it is a musical description of a dream or a stream of consciousness. It explores the question of where dreams end and reality begins and the mind as the tool that has to decide what to believe. The character goes through various memories real and imagined and sees the world from the angles of different people. He travels through time and visits places across the world including old New Orleans and Ancient woods with Pagan rituals being performed. "Night" is about life and the various ways of interpreting existence. Pretentious? Oh yes but delicious as well, very delicious.

Mikael Krømer, who had played violin on all previous albums and live shows, was welcomed as a full-time band-member on "Night", also earning a co-producer credit. "Night" also saw the return of Kristian "The Duke" Skedsmo, playing six different instruments on the album. Skedsmo rejoined the band for a one-off live appearance in Oslo on 19 January 2008. The album was almost instantly well received in prog-circles, topping the Just For Kicks Music sales chart for two weeks after its release. The (prog related) international press was almost unanimously positive, calling the album "very, very grand art, nothing short of a masterpiece" and "an incredible album". The album charted in the reader's top 20 at Progwereld for more than a year. "Night" also did very well in several readers' polls at the end of 2007. The album was voted 9th best album of 2007 by listeners of Polish radio station MLWZ and 8th best album in the Dutch Progressive Rock Page Poll. During one of the live performances of "Night" on 18 July 2008 the audience at the Boerderij in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands get a first taste of a new work in progress song called "Tick Tock", which was played for the first time in its entirety clocking 22 min and 24 seconds. Later it appears to involve the title track for the successor of "Night". As of 1 October 2008 the band teamed up with new management and booking agency: WiV Entertainment. The goal is to be able to be more on the road with their new release.

On 15 March 2009 the 5th studio album "Tick Tock" was released on HTW Records a division of Sony BMG. The album is based on the story of French writer and navigator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who took off in an attempt at a long distance flight from Paris to Saigon (1935). He crashed in the Sahara Desert many hours later stranded with his co pilot Prevot. Later he recounted his experience in a book called Wind, Sand and Stars and this story forms the basis of the "Tick Tock" album. The metaphor of a desert walk represented by a ticking clock may not be sublime but by golly the music is in moments. The apathetic underscore of a sweltering almost synthy loop which really is a b4 organ played through a guitar amp and a sequencer brings at first hesitation then desperation then more hesitation and then something happens and you get sucked into a glassy mood. Almost as if you were walking a long and lonely walk in the desert where there is only you, the stars, wind and sand, the sound of your footsteps softened by the burning sand and heard only through the bones of the body. In connection with "Tick Tock", the band conducted their first official headlining tour (Tick Tock Tour), visiting six different countries between 26 March and 8 April 2009. In the meantime, the album and corresponding shows received rave reviews.

"If you are a fan of music that transports you to another place, you will find nothing better." 10/10 and Gazpacho achieved the impossible. They delivered an album as good as "Night". Which band can deliver two masterpieces after each other these days ? !" to quote only two, more can be found here reviews. On 10 July 2009 Gazpacho head off to Germany to perform as headliners for the 4th night of the prog festival at Loreley Germany. The concert was caught on tape to be released in January 2010 as "A Night at Loreley". The first official live album and limited edition DVD is a fact. At the end of 2009,during the process of editing, mixing and producing that first DVD , comes the news that Robert R Johansen (drums) has decided (due to personal circumstances) to leave the band. At the end of 2009 Tick Tock reached top 5 ranks in various polls: among them are rank 5 at DPRP, 2nd at MLWZ in Poland and Rock Area, 1st rank at Dutch Progwereld. In the early day's of 2010 replacement for Robert is found in Lars Erik Asp, just in time to get known to the music before the second part of the Tick Tock tour (The T.B.A. tour) kicks in. Again the March/April period is planned to visit 6 countries again, planned because due to a plane tragedy in Poland with the corresponding 1 week of mourning, the Polish promoter had decided to cancel the concerts in Poland from 16–18 April. The dates where postponed until September 2010. On 1 May 2010 the first concert in the U.S.A. is a fact, as part of a prog festival the band plays at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, later for the German/Italian festival + Polish gigs in September, they hired a stand-in guitarist by the name of Micheal Krumins (Green Carnation, Sirenia). This because of the arrival of Jon-Arne's first born and his priority to the newborn family.

The story of the album "Missa Atropos" is about Atropos goddess of fate and destiny in Greek mythology, one of the Moirai. The Story goes on when Atropos decided to choose the mechanism of death instead of mortality and ended their life cutting their thread with her special scissor which they call it "Abhorred Shears". She wasn't all alone in this, her other two sister; Lachesis and Clotho helped her. Clotho was the youngest of all sisters and Lachesis was the kindest one. But as Atropos was so inevitable and hard she used her power to convince them to help her to destroy mortality. They say Atropos was jealous of her sisters because they were deciding for humans' lives. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life and Lachesis was the apportioner, deciding how much time for life was to be allowed for each person or being. She measured the thread of life with her rod. She is also said to choose a person's destiny after a thread was measured. In Greek mythology, it is said that she appears with her sisters within three days of a baby's birth to decide its fate. In between all these Atropos was the only one who should have sat somewhere and watches her youngest sisters doing their jobs, so that's when her jealousy overcame her feelings and made her to choose the mechanism of death, then she would have been a part of this circle to end humans' lives on certain time which Lachesis decides.

The album "Missa Atropos" characterizes a person who becomes trapped in a lighthouse after leaving the earth. He tries to fight against his destiny, which Atropos and her other two sisters decided for him but he finds out he can't overcome his destiny so he starts writing his "Will to Live". And in the end when he's dying, he's saying his last words in "An Audience" that he feels Atropos is standing next to him and she's ready to cut his thread of life and finish him. But we find out that this person was in love with Atropos and he was waiting for his time to come, which Atropos comes along then he can see her face and say goodbye to this world. That's when he starts describing beauty of Atropos to his only audience that was watching him dying, which is a "Snail" and asking that snail to describe Atropos' beauty to anyone he see. The album mostly received positive reviews. Website Prog Archives gave a positive review to the album and awarded it with 4 star out of 5 and called it: "Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection." Craig Hartranft of Dangerdog Music Reviews gave 3 and half star out of 5 to the album and wrote: "This work is both hard and hearty to digest. It's progressive, art, and alternative at its best with a dark sense." and described the album as "dark, despondent, but artfully creative progressive rock." Jerry Ewing of Classic Rock Prog gave very positive review to the album and wrote: "A delightfully mellifluous selection. They won’t be Norway’s best kept secret much longer".

The end of 2011 brings us the news that "March of Ghosts" will be the band's 7th studio album and the follow-up to "Missa Atropos". While as mentioned "Missa Atropos" was a long story about one person leaving everything behind, "March of Ghosts" is a collection of short stories. The idea behind the album was to have the lead character spend a night where all these ghosts (dead and alive) would march past him to tell their stories. Characters include Haitian war criminals, the crew of the Mary Celeste, a returning American World War I soldier who finds himself in 2012 and the ghost of an English comedy writer who was wrongly accused of treason. They are short stories. They are a march of ghosts. They are tales that need to be told. The new album "March Of Ghosts" was released on Kscope 12 March 2012 and was accompanied by a tour March / April 2012 tour As a support to the album and the upcoming tour, on 10 March the band's first official video/clip is released. The song "Black Lily" features footage from an idea by Antonio Seijas, who's also the artist responsible for all the album artwork from 2005's "Firebird" and onward. Two months later the 2nd official video is a fact, a clip directed and edited by James Jones Morris supporting the song "What Did I Do ?". A song that's based around the story of the English writer P. G. Wodehouse, who was accused of treason after a series of broadcasts he did on German radio during World War II. He was interned as a foreign national by the Germans and spent some time in prison camp before finally being released at 60. After he was released he stayed for some time at a country estate where he was informed of what crimes the Nazis were guilty of and how impossibly stupid it was to agree to broadcast on their radio. It is his ghost we hear sitting on the porch listening to the gramophone recordings of the broadcasts trying to understand why these simple funny narratives had caused such an uproar.

In September the marching of the ghosts continued with a festival and a club gig in Poland. In late 2013, the band announced via their Facebook page that they had finished recording their 8th studio album, "Demon", due to be released in 2014. "Demon" was released in March 2014 and the band toured the UK and Europe in support of it in April 2014. Gazpacho released a live CD/DVD album titled "Night of the Demon" in April 2015. In October/November 2015, Gazpacho toured in support of the album Molok (Kscope; 23 October 2015). They completed two venues in Poland, two in Germany and two in Netherlands, including The Boerderij, Zoetermeer. They completed the tour with a gig at the O2 in Islington, London. The band were joined on the tour by chamber progressive band Iamthemorning. Gazpacho announced in October 2017 that drummer Lars Erik Asp had left the band to focus on other commitments. The band announced that they would be releasing their tenth studio album, "Soyuz", in 2018, and will embark on a European tour in support of the album, before appearing at the Be Prog! My Friend festival in Barcelona in June. Former drummer Robert Johansen was named as Asp's replacement for the "Soyuz" album, which, according to keyboardist Thomas Andersen, "is about being frozen in time". "Soyuz" was released on 18 May 2018, with opening track "Soyuz One" released as the first single on 23 February 2018.

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