We have 15 seconds to takeoff, then Gridlock launch us into space. From the Moon we travel to a triple-star system almost 24 light years away, where we explore the sonic landscape of Planet Lush – which apparently is populated by intelligent MIDI-controlled synthesizers.
On The Cosmic Web the duo from Toronto pours thick layers of retro sounding digital synthesizer sounds over an organic foundation of bass guitar and drums. All tracks are very reminiscent of 70s and 80s fusion, though the instrumentation almost completely relies on the synthesizers. Because of this and the extreme precision in the rhythmically complex compositions the whole album has a very artificial aesthetic, but this is regularly intermitted by long and virtuosic lead solos through the synths and also on the bass guitar. This synthesis goes along really well with the space theme that permeates the album over its more than one-hour-long interstellar ride.
What initially sold me personally to the album is how much the MIDI-controlled saws and squares remind me of early 90s video game music, when MIDI was the way to go. Think of classics like Sonic 2 and Transport Tycoon. Surely those are not as ambitious as Gridlock are with their approach, but to me it evokes enough nostalgia to really get into the music.
The Cosmic Web works great without attached nostalgia, but it is probably a little bit harder to approach. There are moments when the album lets you have a breather (‘Planet Lush’), but shortly after it will spazz out in a polyrhythmic fever once again (‘Curry Masala’). Which is absolutely awesome – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a nice spacey soundtrack to read through your Arthur C. Clarke collection to. The Cosmic Web by Gridlock is a hyperspace jump on its own.