Gridlock [Special]

Gridlock [Special]

Gridlock is a San Francisco based experimental electronic band originally created by Mike Wells in 1994. A year later, Mike Cadoo joined up, and the duo released their first two demos, Sickness and Frozen, and soon signed to Pendragon Records in 1997.

Their style was originally akin to the sound of Skinny Puppy with less vocals and an ambient aspect not normally found in industrial. Eventually, they took on more and more ambient and electronic sounds and slowly removed their industrial edge and any trace of vocals. Today, they could better be compared to Autechre due to their newer IDM sound and to Panacea for their Drum & Bass experimentation.

On March 24, 2005, the band announced its dissolution on its website, but promised to continue making music under Wells' and Cadoo's respective side projects. Their last recorded material to be released was two tracks on the 2006 Hymen Records compilation Travel Sickness.

Mike Wells will continue the Gridlock ideology through o2, doing remixes for other artists, as well as a new O2 release. He also runs a mastering studio, Mike Wells Mastering.

Mike Cadoo works under the aliases Dryft and Bitcrush. He also runs the record label n5MD and the MP3 label en:peg digital.

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Contrast. The word serves the definition of the imperceptible grays between white and black than a compromise between the two absolute opposing giants of color. Contrast is the equator between intentional and subliminal, hard and soft, bass and treble, cinema and life. It is also the best single word Rorschach response to the sonic inkblot that is Gridlock.

Founded in 1994 by San Francisco soundsmith Mike Wells, Gridlock set out to carve a "heavy, emotional sound" into the carcass of a dark electronic music scene stuck in a perpetual spin cycle of dancefloor throwbacks such as Front 242 and Frontline Assembly. Melding the cut-copy-and-kill approach of Skinny Puppy with an ambient stitching akin to Vangellis' Bladerunner score, Wells embarked to convince the ear that it was autonomous of the mind. Amid a genre manned by cyberpunk devotees obsessed with computerized, sequenced perfection, the task could not be more formidable but with the addition of Mike Cadoo in 1995, Gridlock quickly loaded two demos - Sickness and Frozen -- before signing with Pendragon Records in 1997.

Further, the group's sophomore effort, aptly furthered Gridlock from the industrial trench. Comparisons to German doom-n-bass meister Panacea replaced references to Skinny Puppy; nods toward the ephemeral drilling of Dutch beatsmiths Funckarma and the frenzied beauty of IDM stalwarts Autechre erased parallels with progressive industrial heavyweights such as Haujobb.

Following Further, Pendragon Records folded but before the group could react, a fire erupted above their San Francisco studio which saw Wells and Cadoo scrambling for the street with synthesizers in hand like valiant firemen rescuing babies from an inferno. A move to nearby Oakland and a deal with Unit Records quickly remedied the unrest and facilitated the group's most transitional period of behind the scenes maneuvering and sonic growth.

Now, in early 2001, nearly two years past Further, Gridlock offer their most ambitious effort yet - Trace. On their latest, the group has not only surpassed industrial, but even the conventions of ambient, drum-n-bass and IDM. Although solid references to many of the aforementioned groups still hold, Trace marks an infinitely deeper descent into the electronic deep end and a clearer indication that neither Wells or Cadoo have any need to come back up for air.

Extolling the philosophy of rhythm as melody and melody as undertone, Trace weaves music so cinematic in its effect, so sensory in its affect, so lyrical in its sonic diction that language seems infantile by expressive comparison. Sound forms shapes in the mind as Gridlock's tidal flow expands and contracts weaving ever tighter rhythms that eventually snap like a guitar string stretched to the point of mere thread by an incessant pressure. The snap, or break down, is the point of Trace. The more flexible the listener, the greater the affect, the harder the snap. The heavier the beat, the more beautiful the ambience, the greater the contrast...

03|24|05 Gridlock ends:

After 10 years of releases and live performances, Gridlock comes to an end in 2005. For historical information about the band and its releases, you may visit the discography page or a historical retrospective by founder Mike Wells.

[Releted links]


Gridlock - Sickness (1995)
Gridlock - Frozen (1996)
Gridlock - The Synthetic Form (1997)
Gridlock - Further (1999)
Gridlock - 5.25 (2000)
Gridlock - Trace, LP Vinyl (2001)
Gridlock - Trace (2001)
Gridlock - Formless (2003)


Gridlock - Enzyme (1998)
Gridlock - Engram (2002)