Vera : Concept albums are typical in the progressive rock genre, and so they are for the Norwegian breed of this music style Gazpacho, but this time they really came up with a concept that intrigues me. A man experiences a moment of ultimate happiness. To continue this feeling, time is frozen for him and that leads to bizarre experiences. From out of this frozen situation, he can watch the way of the world going by. ‘Soyuz One’ and ‘Soyuz Out’ deal with the first Russian space capsule and its doomed captain Komarov.
This time our favourite cold soup is served with an unusual producer/mixer John Rausch as cook. The man comes from the pop scène and helped the band with developing more refined rhythms in their music. Naturally we were a bit skeptical about that and indeed, it leaves some traces. The drums sound as if they come out of a rhythm box and the dry percussion often invokes an ambient feel. That’s why the calm music of these Norwegian outfit became even more sophisticated. The album opens with ‘Soyuz One’, giving us a soaring experience with calm guitars, but most of all piano and vocals. The dream-like voice of Jan Henrik Ohme is often dominant, most of the songs are obviously composed on piano by main writer Thomas Andersen and you can hear that. Only few prominent guitars on this album. In the opening track there are any more energetic outbursts, but for the rest this album is mainly dreamy and atmospheric.
‘Emperor Bestoke’ happens to be inspired by the fairytale ‘The New Clothes of the Emperor’ from H.C. Andersen and it turns into my instant favourite of the album. Here we hear (a bit) more violin and mandolin and that’s really nice. On top of that the vocal lines are just a little bit more fetching and passionate than elsewhere. Intriguing song is ‘Sky Burial’ which leads us to a Tibetan Buddhist funeral with eerie voices and a repetitive piano theme that creates a menacing atmosphere. In some of the songs we hear a bit orchestration, while the drums remain dry and ambient, even in the nearly fourteen minutes long ‘Soyuz Out’ which is very atmospheric. It misses a bit more tension. Thus we have less rocking on this album and more dreaming. You have to get used to that, although the album as a whole shows an enigmatic beauty and isolation. For some of you, this successor of ’Molok’ (2015) will sound too calm.