First Impressions: Deep Purple’s 2020 Album Teaser

Before any of my readers get excited, no, it’s not out yet. Apologies.

But what did get released today is nonetheless exciting: we finally got a sneak peak of the next album. It can be viewed here, if the link works.

Deep Purple’s latest promotional photo. Clockwise from the top left: Steve Morse, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, and Don Airey. Photograph by Ben Wolf. Retrieved from their Facebook page.

The Deep Purple communications team has decided to bring Roger Glover (who for what it’s worth is now the second-longest serving member of Deep Purple ever, second only to Ian Paice) to the fore, teasing the album with short snippets of conversation with Bob Ezrin. The marketing is designed for the short attention spans of 2020 listeners, leaving those of us who want a little more substance eager for it. Fitting with that, they’ve only released about twenty-four seconds of audio of the new album.

And even from that, it sounds like it’s going to be kick-ass.

Technicalities first. The first few seconds feature a ticking clock in the background and is based around an E drone. Judging by a few other notes, I’m getting a strong e-minor vibes. It sounds like four members are present. Don Airey is the most prominent of them, featuring one of his common tricks from Deep Purple: a cascade of high-pitched sounds. He usually uses these as part of his segue from his solo to “Perfect Strangers” in-concert, and has even used it before in the song “Money Talks” from Rapture of the Deep. Here, it’s much louder and fills the soundscape more completely.

The portion I’m discussing is about half a minute in.

Steve Morse is also present with drawn-out, ambient playing. Morse doesn’t often play “dark” in his playing; I’ve previously compared his guitar work to stepping into the sunlight. Even on the very gloomy Infinite, he had the lightest moments. Here, however, his work also manages to exude melancholia.

Ian Gillan’s lyrics are too sparse to really analyze–something about “washing up” somewhere, “just a man”, and “whoosh”. Roger Glover’s bassline, which is so low in the mix I almost missed it, is also rather sparse, but with a few notes gives the whole thing an ominous feeling.

A final notable audio effect is the inclusion of the clock. Purple tends not to use too many audio effects like that these days, so it’s rather notable. Generally, it adds to the feeling of mystery, perhaps an ominous one, that’s clear even from this short snippet. I personally love that. Deep Purple works great for any mood, but somehow they can do darker moods–uncertainty, anger, mystery–incredibly well. The song is a little reminiscent of “Time For Bedlam”, which is similarly dark and brooding. That one, however, has an angrier edge that this one doesn’t seem to have—from what we’ve seen, anyway!

A last thing: my colleague suggested that this song sounds a bit like the opening to a concept album. The focus on “just a man” seems suggestive of that; perhaps it’ll be a journey of a life, or something of the kind. A concept album would definitely be the sort of different that Purple has promised, as they’ve said this upcoming album is nothing like they’ve ever done before. It would be a welcome return to the music type for four of the five members; Steve Morse’s tenure with Kansas brought loose concept album In the Spirit of Things, Ian Gillan originated the role of Jesus Christ Superstar on the concept album, Roger Glover’s solo output includes the gorgeous concept album Elements, and Don Airey has written two! Both K2 and A Light in the Sky are brilliant works about very different subjects. It bodes well if this is indeed a concept album.

Of course, I could be absolutely wrong in my predictions! Whatever happens, though, we’re in for quite a treat.

If you want to hear my further impressions, feel free to check out my responses to the other aspects of Whoosh! They’re all available here.

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  • Edit on 2021-02-02: Optimized for new site.

4 thoughts on “First Impressions: Deep Purple’s 2020 Album Teaser

    1. The two joined at the same time. Roger Glover was also part of the group after Ian Gillan was fired in 1988, so he’s been a member for a bit longer.

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