By Conor Hooley
“Viscosity” refers to a fluid’s resistive properties or, more simply, the thickness of a given liquid – water has a low viscosity, whereas molasses has a much higher one. Hot Gazpacho’s new CD presumably qualifies as the latter, offering up an array of slow-cooked, textured tracks.
The vocal-less album sinks or swims on the quality of the soundscapes, and this nine-track outing comes across as crisp and lively, though not gratuitously energetic. It is indelibly funky: Clint Wilcox’s drumming and Glen Manna’s chunky basslines set a solid rhythmic foundation for the deft duos of Matt Goldberg’s keys and Sean Cohen’s guitar riffs. They play together quite well.
The opener, “Reverse Symbol,” uses atmospheric synth lines and thick guitar riffs to create a sharp and spacey piece of psychedelica.
“Hadron Collided,” while less bombastic, is even more emblematic of the Gazpacho sound: quintessentially quirky, whimsical and upbeat.
The initial bright moments are not really sustained, however. Perhaps the old cliché applies about the live band unable to recapture the magic in the studio. Whatever the case, the disc’s direction grows increasingly unsatisfying: “People of Earth” is one long guitar solo that spends seven minutes going nowhere, whereas “Isthmus,” the requisite phoned-in downtempo effort, might as well be aural tryptophan. The group’s talent and ambition is beyond reproach, but so much of Viscosity’s sound relies on cosmic, exploratory aesthetics that you’d be right in asking if there’s anywhere else that they might want to go.