“Gazpacho is an art rock band from Oslo, Norway. It is not easy to categorize Gazpacho's music. The music has been compared to A-Ha, Radiohead, Muse, Marillion and Porcupine Tree. Without the backing of a major label, Gazpacho is one of many bands now utilizing the resources of the Internet to create word of mouth promotional opportunities, with a reliance on their website and its forum, online shopping, MySpace and other 'net initiatives to spread the word. This allows the band to hold down full time jobs, yet still manage to release an album a year with total artistic control over their compositions and distribution.” (Wikipedia, 2009).
What motivated the production of Tick Tock?
This band answers the question of motivation easily. Their work ethic is astounding. They have produced 6 albums over seven years now, with Tick Tock. That shows allot of passion for music and a desire to get their message out. Tick Tock draws on the book “Wind, Sand, and Stars”, an account of the trials experienced by author Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who in 1935 attempted a flight from Paris to Saigon, only to crash in the desert. Their last album, Night, (2007), also deals with this subject matter, but not as deeply, according to their band press release.
What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Despite the rather bleak notion of trekking across the desert after a plane crash, the band does a good job of delivering the desperation of the long trek, with the accompanying clock – like tick tock drum beat. However, they do not subject the listener to an uneventful musical experience.
The cover art also helps convey the desperation of the trek across the desert with the mirrored image of the clock set in sand.
So let’s look at each track individually:
1. Desert Flight (7:39) – Track 1
Desert Flight lifts off the runway with a guitar riff that makes you feel the exhilaration of going off on an adventure. I am reminded of the wonderful scene of one of my favorite movies the English Patient, where they fly over the desert to beautiful music. Wonderful use of keyboards, drums, and violin to wrap the listener in the experience. Great inspiration found in the lyrics, “tie a ribbon ‘round the world”. But the hero is leaving behind a close friend or lover on a “100,000” mile journey. The adventure is under way. The guitar does a great job of lifting you up into the ‘clouds” and we are on our way!
2. The Walk (13:41) – split between tracks 2 – 3 on the CD
Then after the crash, the long walk begins. The drum rhythm of tick – tock begins. You can almost feel each footfall. The adventurer is still full of the possibility of being rescued and the wonder of the desert, “feel like walking through a masterpiece.” “Walking through a starry night…the sky is bright. And I fall but I can get up”. There is a wonderful violin part here and a building Middle – Eastern sounding guitar and drum extravaganza. An exciting start to this new adventure.
Then a quiet drifting sound, like sand blowing, what an excellent effect. An acoustic guitar, violin and more of that Middle – Eastern sound. Just excellent. They did a wonderful job of making you feel like you are there.
“Close your eyes, it’s all around you…” Yes, you can feel it in the music.
The journey that began with elation is now beginning to take its toll, “..one bullet to a man…” “The sky is wide. Feels like a magic carpet. Shoulders are like icecaps…mountains in the sand” “The eyes do not see any more...primitive man…so we did not speak anymore..” A reflection that maybe the adventurer did not fully plan for all that he may have encountered. “Clouds like corral…I am the one to survive this...” Determined to make it through.
Great lyrics supported by wonderful flowing music.
3. Tick Tock (22:24) - split between tracks 2 – 3 on the CD
A sound of a gun and the increased pace of the tick – tock sound. The music from the Walk drifts into the epic Tick Tock, and slowly the mood changes. “Oceanside...in your eyes. Wherever you are..” “The sky is like burning…you close your eyes...” “There is no cure…no way to hide..”.
A strong musical interlude begins to trace the drudgery of walking step by step across a desert. Recounting the reasons for the plane crash. An almost Gregorian monk sounding chant begins. Then those powerful drums and a wonderful use of piano, guitar and that constant tick – tock. Recounting his life as he plods across the desert. Nothing but time to think. Great interludes of music with the background beat of the tick – tock.
The feeling that you must hold on based on your strong nature and all that you have accomplished in the past as the past runs through your mind on the lonely sands. The doubts begin to set in about survival.
4. Winter is never (4:55) – Track 7 on the CD
This track begins the return to hope. “Winter is never…” in the desert. Haunted by the memories of his past.
The music of Gazpacho is bold and symphonic. They have done an impressive job of conveying the elation, desperation, then return to happiness. Though I haven’t read the book used as inspiration, the band has taken me on the journey using great hooks and provided a timely message to hang on through adversity so needed in the world of a global economic meltdown.
Gazpacho delivered an epic journey! However, the final track Winter is Never leaves the listener hanging in terms of the story. I had to request the lyrics from the band to really get the story of the ending. The lyrics do not follow the story exactly, maybe to get you to pick up the book yourself.
Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
The music does not change the genre much, but definitely adds a new story to the genre. The listener receives a lesson in human stamina and wonderful music played over deeply emotional lyrics.
Although I like the vocalists sound, my wife felt there was not enough inflection or change in his style. For her, his voice seemed to plod along, though she also loved the music.
I also wish they would have followed the story through to completion. I find this with bands where English is not their first language. I think it is an interesting story and an epic like this deserves more character development. In the lyrics sheet that the band sent, there was a song, Speed of Envy, left off the final version of the album. Although it doesn’t complete the storyline, it does add some background. The music has increased my interest in reading the book, so in that way, the music is inspiring listeners to search out the book.
Does it have longevity? Is it something you will like to play again and again?
Yes. The music is wonderful and emotional. The second listen was better than the first because I did not concentrate on trying to understand and grasp the meaning of the lyrics. When you have a story to tell as well as a musical journey it can be difficult to enjoy both, but this album, after a few listens, will fit well in my favorite prog collection.
Rating 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Prof on March 31st, 2009