Your reviewer sits rather comfortably with the guitar, of which he has been discovering and investigating beauty and ugliness for 41 years now. It is the experience with the instrument that permits us to promptly understand whether a guitarist is endowed with adequate depth – of mind, soul and technique – to trigger reactions beyond repeated yawning or sheer irritation. Particularly in the case of a solo album.

Samuel Leipold – 1988, Switzerland – is a musician with undoubted skills. However, they would not be enough if he did not demonstrate an equally advanced ear, especially with regard to an abstract concept of “resonance”. Viscosity is Leipold’s first work based almost entirely on the soloist/solipsist approach. It hit the target nearly instantly.

The reasons are several, becoming evident as one keeps returning. In a nutshell, what convinces most is the discerning reticence. Leipold never plays huge quantities of notes, even though he possesses the ability to do so. The timbral choices glorify the spurious trails of clusters and the clever implementation of clean tones. The root is definitely jazzy, but Leipold’s interests also include composers such as Toru Takemitsu and, get this, ambient music. When other instruments are combined – Toni Bechtold’s bass clarinet in “Shō”, and the piano (played by Leipold himself) in the mysterious closing track – the core of the issue does not change. 

Listening to this release brought unadulterated pleasure, as well as noting that there are still guitarists around who place the research of interesting sounds before the gratification of their ego. It is hoped that Leipold maintains this attitude when he achieves greater fame. Because he will.

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