THE GRID / FRIPP – Leviathan

Panegyric 2021

THE GRID / FRIPP –
Leviathan

Fathoming the inner space of a welcoming monster, masters of progressive experiments open a different dimension.

Some people imagine leviathan as a mythical monster, others may know this word simply means “whale” in Hebrew, yet whatever its significance may be, there are always the notions of immensity and depth involved – the very qualities that get evoked by the collaboration between THE GRID, comprised by Dave Ball of SOFT CELL fame and Richard Norris, and the KING CRIMSON mastermind Robert Fripp. Their sonic experiments, harking back to a single studio stint and landing on a few numbers of the electronica mavens’ “456” in 1993, left quite a lot unissued tapes which Norris and Ball finished by adding new instrumental layers to Fripp’s soundscapes from two decades ago. What resulted from such stitching of times is immersive, to say the least, and completely consistent with the record’s title.

Not that individual cuts riff on a nautical theme: the players place minimalist grandeur elsewhere and allow aural solemnity to swell in “Empire” whose panorama – especially impressive in surround mixes on a companion DVD-A – will swirl around the listeners to order their mental waves, as synthesizers grow in scope, embracing guitar, and produce subaquatic effects. Further on, “Milkwood” is propelled by a piano ripple and exciting shimmer which the album’s titular piece has on its glitterball-like surface, once “Pulse Detected” introduced a suspenseful groove to this rather tangible flow. But if there’s dance-inducing freshness in “After The Rain” breathing over the bass-troubled plateau, “Fire Tower” offers a humid bliss of brain-numbing, Balearic sort, before “Zhora” moves beat and jive to a secret Caribbean locale.

This multilayered trip is, unexpectedly, extremely exciting – and warm, as the finale of “Sympatico” suggests – and even strangely comfortable. Just like as it should be inside the creature which has space for everyone… but don’t mention the belly of the beast.

*****

August 7, 2021

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