Thursday 2 June 2022

THE GRAY GOO ~ 1943 ....... review

The Gray Goo, Max Gargasz (guitar/vocals); Matt Carper (bass/vocals) and Zach Ronish (drums/vocals), are a trio hailing from the Flathead Valley, Northwest Montana and thanks to Frank Zappa's quirky opus "Montana" Desert Psychlist cannot now think of anything connected with Montana without conjuring up images of pygmy ponies galloping through endless fields of white dental floss. Now that could be a problem if The Grey Goo were an out and out heavy rock or metal combo cranking out songs about satanic rituals and virgin sacrifices but this is a trio Desert Psychlist thinks the late Mr Zappa would approve of, a band of supremely talented musicians unafraid to mix and meld elements from a wide spectrum of music's and genres in an experimental hotch-potch of sound that ranges from complex and proggy to groovesome and funky, often all in the same song. The band penned the songs they present to us on their debut album "1943" while in Covid isolation and if anything positive has come out of this planet's latest brush with mass extinction then this album is it!

The Gray Goo go big straight out of the blocks with opening track "Bicycle Day" a ten minute plus epic that begins with an eerie mix of electronic noise that then morphs into an equally eerie and off kilter doom like refrain over which wordless vocal harmonies are sung. Right now you are probably wondering why we referenced Zappa in our intro piece and why we thought he might be smiling down on this trio, well here is where you find out. Up until this moment "Bicycle Day" has shown all the signs of being a low slow. if slightly quirky, doom-ic tome but then everything changes with the band erupting into a complex heavy prog workout that then shifts into into a liquid-like reggae groove and then to further confuse things adds some whaka-whaka style guitar textures to take us into funk territory, if that wasn't enough to contend with the band then go all Ozric Tentacles on our asses before signing out back in the doom waters they first launched themselves off from. Its mind blowing stuff and we are only on the first track! "Problem Child" follows and the schizophrenic nature of The Gray Goo's sonic attack is not tempered one iota, here they blend strident hard rock with heavy psych and doom and decorate it with a vocal that has a punkish Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother) vibe, the songs dynamic erupting and subsiding like one of Yellowstone Parks famous geysers. "Launch" begins with sampled narrative on the effects and dangers of heroin then falls into a playful funky reggae groove over which high pitched whoops and screams routinely erupt while for "The Comedown" The Gray Goo almost play things straight, well if you consider proto-doom morphing into reggae-ish heavy psych and then decorating the ensuing blend with a very Zappa-esque clipped vocal.. straight. Those Zappa-like vocals reappear for "Shakes and Spins" but this time are accompanied by a much darker doom-ic musical dynamic that also includes an experimental and frankly quite brilliant  middle section. "Goo" is a moment of respite equating to one minute thirty one seconds of liquid sound effects before we are pummelled into submission by closing number "Cop Punk" a furious assault on the senses musically in keeping with its subject matter which deals with police brutality and contains the line "You can't breath with my knee on the back of your head", an unveiled reference to the recent murder by an American policeman of George Floyd.

Stunning musicianship combined with a refusal to be hemmed in by musical boundaries makes, in our opinion, "1943" one of the most exciting and diverse albums to have emerged so far this year, let's hope that it wasn't  just the pandemic that inspired The Gray Goo to reach the heights they have reached with their debut and that in the future they will be just as capable of reaching those same heights without the threat of impending annihilation hanging over them.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

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