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Harry Harland (Gazpacho – Night & Tick Tock)

Norway, lovely country as it may be (despite our resident racing-bullshit-tipster the Ferret describing it as “at least 10 times worse than Montenegro”), is not famed for its music scene. In fact, the only allusion to Norwegian music I can think of is their laughably poor historical record in the Eurovision Song Contest. Norway was always synonymous with the phrase “Nil points”. Fast forward a few years and my, times have changed.

Oslo’s Gazpacho are a band with a lot going for them. Described by an early critic as “classical post-ambient nocturnal atmospheric neo-progressive folk world rock” and compared to the likes of Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Marillion, they aren’t backed by a major record label. This bizarrely means all the band members hold down full time jobs, while releasing 7 albums in the last 9 years… The likes of Guns N’ Roses and Muse could learn a thing or two from these levels of productivity.

The two albums that I own are 2007’s Night and 2009’s Tick Tock. They are both exceptional in their own ways.

Night is an extremely mellow affair, consisting of a mere 5 tracks, albeit 3 of them over the 10 minute mark. The album has a running theme through it, a pattern that weaves its way into all the fabric of every track, leaving the feeling that you have been listening to one continuous piece of music. This is a proper prog rock album.

Tick Tock was released two years later, and it is clear from the outset that a sizable change in tack. This time the band have plumped for a much rockier feel. Opening track Desert Flight could conceivably be Muse and moving on the whole feel is bigger, louder and more confident than its predecessor. While the track-listing suggests that there are 7 tracks, the titles give a more accurate representation, with only the opening and closing numbers standing alone.

Both albums deserve to be listened to from start to finish. Night sets a scene, it paints a picture, while Tick Tock takes you on a journey, culminating with the melodic and accessible Winter Is Never.

The band are taking time out from their day jobs to tour Europe later this month, the London leg taking place at The Garage in Islington on Wednesday the 28th. I have my ticket, and I strongly suggest that you join me in going.

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