Gazpacho’s Molok: Norway’s Latest Mystery

Gazpacho's latest album, MOLOK (Kscope, 2015).
Gazpacho’s latest album, MOLOK (Kscope, 2015).

Gazpacho, MOLOK (Kscope, 2015).

Every time I delve into a new Gazpacho album, I fail to understand at what level I should comprehend and analyze the lyrics.  Are they meant literally or symbolically?  Is the band writing poetry or recording a nightmare?  As always, Gazpacho presents puzzles, usually quite Gnostic, that might or might not sort themselves out after many listens.  The latest album, Molok, is not only no different in this respect than their previous albums, but it is also much more frustrating to comprehend.

Molok, of course, is neither a good god nor a good guy.  He’s a terror and a horror to all that is decent and civilized.

In English, his name is generally rendered as Moloch, and he is best remembered in the western tradition (through the Jews) as the god who demands the blood sacrifice of children.  He is, simply put, a demon and an abomination.  Across the centuries, almost no one has defended Moloch as anything other than a horror.

In the 1920s, especially, he made several cultural appearances.  In Willa Cather’s stunning American novel, DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP, Archbishop Latour retches upon finding the cave in which the natives once threw their children to the gods.

In that same decade, film director Fritz Lang depicted Moloch as the modern machine of industrialization—raping and pillaging life, while demanding conformity in all things.

In the 20s and 30s, many in the West would associate Moloch with the machines being erected in fascist Italy, German, Portugal, Poland, and Austria.

Interestingly, Gazpacho sets their album in 1920.

After listening to the disc close to twenty times and delving deeply into the lyrics, I still don’t know what the album is about.  When asked by TeamRock (Prog and Classic Rock), the keyboardist answered:

Molok is about a man that, sometime around 1920, decides that wherever anyone worships a God, they always seem to be worshipping stone in some form. Whether it’s a grand cathedral, the stone in Mecca or Stonehenge, God seems to have been chased by his worshipers into stone, never to return.  This harkens back to Norwegian folk myths, where, if a troll was exposed to sunlight, it would turn to stone. But it also reflects the way God has been incommunicado for a very long time.

I get the second part of the statement, but the first part baffles me.  Indeed, it begs more questions than it answers.

I find it hard to believe that a band as seemingly humane and dignified as Gazpacho would ever have anything positive to state about an abomination or a fascist.  Indeed, such an interpretation flies in the face of everything that seems true about the band.

Presuming, then, that Gazpacho is not promoting any form of fascism or an abomination, I find myself scratching my head.  What on God’s green earth are they talking about?

The lyrics refer to two important figures in the Western tradition, the pre-Socratic philosopher, Zeno (not the Stoic one of later centuries), and the Hessian-Anglo composer and astronomer, William Herschel.

I’m no closer to an answer.

I first came across the Norwegian art rock band around 2007 when the band released its magnum opus, NIGHT.  Since then, the band has never NOT taken chances.  Importantly, as they’ve explored the mystical in their lyrics, they’ve successfully incorporated a variety of folk music and folk instruments into their rock.  As far as I know, they rarely promote themselves as art rock rather than prog.  This is fine, of course, and it applies.  Gazpacho is nothing if not arty.

The new album, MOLOK, is a real treat.  As I admitted, I’m still not sure what the story is.  But, in no way has this lessened my enjoyment of the album.  I’ll keep exploring, as I’m bound and determined to figure this thing out.  Until then. . . any thoughts are more than welcomed.

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