In 2014, Gazpacho’s Demon was to progressive rock what, in that same year, Hozier was to pop and Sturgill Simpson was to country — voices that raised the bar, made others take notice and take stock. Demon was Gazpacho’s eighth album, and many would argue they’d been producing classic, 5-star records since 2007’s Night. This is true, but the organic, earthy power in Demon marked a new high. Possessed of one of the most articulate, disciplined songwriting teams I can think of, Gazpacho’s fantasies are psychological, unsettling, symbolic, while their musical fire is in the restraint of their performances and a deep melodic sensibility that is immediately recognizable. There are no baroque runs here, or an interest in shredding. Everything is in service to the song. I never get the sense Gazpacho is attempting to make PROGRESSIVE ROCK; they’re just trying to create the coolest music they can think of, and to share it with sympathetic audiences, much as prog’s first generation did. And so Demon for me reads more like a folk opera, like Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog or Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, and like those records too the production is simple, naturally spacious, working dynamics as if all the instruments were acoustic and the songs traditional, even when the electrically crashing guitar/organ power chords could be straight outta Deep Purple. In “I’ve Been Walking (part 2)” the best of Gazpacho is on view: Jan Henrik Ohme’s voice floats as a second melodic center over Thomas Alexander Andersen’s piano, and as the first part of the song blossoms with the added rhythm and violin, the texture and mix of the instruments convey the message as much as the lyrics. There is a reflective reprise of the first track of the album before a segue into one of the more beautifully heavy, baffling songs I’ve heard this side of Fragile-era Jon Anderson, building its arpeggios into mellotrons and a stormfront of guitars. And then it’s over, and even at 12-plus minutes, this song ends too soon.
*Above image is a detail from the liner notes to Demon, designed by Antonio Seijas.