this disk came out of nowhere, limited to 250 copies and released strictly in-house, it is an account of north america tour that took place in 2001. needless to say, I am one of those people whose hands start shaking and whose breath quickens when I hear about new gridlock release, especially if it contains reworked/remixed tracks from "synthetic form" ("burn" and "ich dien"), a title track off "further", three tracks off "trace" ("estrella", "uh4.17" and "voiceless"), not to mention a track by o2 (".0002") and dryft ("caloc"). oh and did I mention two new tracks - "bu'yaam" and "recycle"?
even to this date "synthetic form" has not lost its influence on me; I try to imagine how "burn" sounded live, with its main threatening and dark rhythmic part left intact, with familiar dramatic deep basslines overlaid with crunchy swirling idm layers, reminiscent of their latest material. or listen to "ich dien" that has been reworked a lot more, resulting in an incredibly smooth layered sound that resurrects menace and darkness of "synthetic form" and yet cleans it up, inserting moments of quiet tranquility vibrating with mounting tension amongst explosive percussion bursts. I have to admit I always missed the heavier, darker side of gridlock, and these remixes are something that balances more of an idm sound with aggression and complexity of their debut album. this balance works out so perfectly, that I cannot really come up with any comparisons, no one does it as well as gridlock. I bet my copy of "sickness" tape that if "synthetic form" were to be released nowadays, it would explode in the industrial/idm/noise scene; too bad it was only four years too early.
since dryft is going away after its last album on component records, there will be only gridlock and o2 left, and the way i see it, this would be the best combination - minimal idm of o2 and heavier, more rhythm-oriented gridlock. the sign of this convergence is presence of "caloc" (previously appeared on "integral components" compilation) - it is fast-paced idm piece with rough breakbeats, somewhat of a cross between drum&bass and idm, but really not much different from material on "trace". ".0002", however, is not as quiet as usual, featuring sparse heavy percussion that mind remind you of phonem, but with deep melodies and amazing ambience; the more I listen to this track, the more I like its dreamy feel, a balance of spontaneity and smooth melodic textures.
it was nice to hear material off "trace" integrated into the set, it was not modified as dramatically as other tracks, but it presented a sort of a reference point against which all other material could be measured.
"bu-yaam", the first new track, starts out with bombastic percussion drops and keeps a steady pace with familiar contrast of lush strings and percussion. aggressive and well-balanced, it is the gridlock we know. "recycle" closes the disk with more spacey idm track; percussion is a bit cleaner, drowned in thick ambient washes, gradually fading out.
"live.traces" is not just the material reworked and presented for the live tour, it is much more, a body of work encompassing so many years and genres into one solid vision, bringing together all the diversity of this duo; it is a retrospective, a re-contextualization of previous material, an affirmation of its timeless nature and a promise for the future. I truly regret the fact that I was not able to see them live, but at least I have this album. I remember getting their first two tapes back in 1997, and although throughout those five years my tastes have changed dramatically, gridlock (and all its alter egos) has always remained one of my favorites.