Once again, I’ve been asked to write a review for an internationally-known Instrumental Rock & Fusion guitarist named Todd Grubbs. I met Todd online through MySpace awhile back… I was jumpin’ around from one guitar instrumental artist to another when I came across Todd and his music. The guitarist-songwriter’s music is totally mind bending to say the least. Todd’s arrangements and production are very well thought out and well produced. No ones in a hurry here… The album has 11 songs that are very interesting technically, sonically, emotionally, and spiritually. The skilled guitarist has so many influences in his music that I’m astounded at the many genres and styles of guitar he plays. I could go off on a tangent of guitar players he pays tribute to with his grooving riffs and songs. However, I’ll leave that for the actual review of each song. I can tell you this now… There’s no pigeon holing this artist! The music takes you from hard rock antics… to Zappa / Vai-esque arrangements. Oh! There’s more… Then there’s the prog-rock of yester-year… and let’s not forget the sounds reminiscent of your guitar-riffin’G3 Tour… Also, some really cool fusion sounds ta-boot. I don’t think Todd’s organic sounds fit into any one category. I just know he plays his ass off on every song without stepping all over himself. The chap plays exactly what each truly unique song needs.
The new CD "Time, Space and the Electric" is a fine example of the culmination of years of experiences, experimentation, and passion that has brought Todd to where he is today. From the first note, Todd captures the listeners ear with mesmerizing melodies and technical proficiency that takes them to a different plane altogether.
So here we go…
CD Review for Todd Grubbs’ - “Time, Space and the Electric” by Scott Thomas
Song One – Time, Space, and the Electric
This tune is pretty much the intro to the album… Totally majestic sounding in the beginning… It kind of has that middle-eastern sound… Looking at the CD’s artwork on the inner sleeve, it will dawn on you why he named the album after the intro… The artwork on the cover gives you the idea where Todd’s music is coming from and where it’s going… The beautifully painted hovering guitar on the cover looks like it’s ready to take off into outer-space from the opening at end of an art gallery… the guitar resembles how a spacecraft would take on the hanger deck of a space station. The CD comes with a small 12 page brochure showing off the paintings and guitar art work from David Hervey’s gallery. Todd plays some extraordinary lead lines in the style of Yngwie Malmsteen who is notable for his technical fluency, blistering shred guitar playing, and neo-classical metal compositions. I know… the alarm clock going off had my head turning too! “WAKE UP!”
Song Two – Thank You Mr. Maniac
Yeah! I like the palm muted, hard core metal, tight riffin’ on this one. The arrangements on this masterpiece go from Metallica like head bangin’, in your face rhythms… to Ravi Shankar world music… Epic sounding at times with a flair for Steve Vai type antics on the fret board. This is definitely the music to listen to if you drive a fast car or love extreme sports. Moreover, listening to this music isn’t for the faint of heart. There is a lot of emotion, odd time signatures, and sweeping walls of ever changing sound coming at you all the time.
Song Three – The Fearless Future
The intro is mysterious and builds into a steady galloping beat with some awesome bass thumping progression and a smoothly laid multi-layered guitar lead motif… Todd’s soloing is flawless and his modal transitions weave in and out of the music with ease. The next sections of this ever-expanding, heavily keyboard ridden music reminds me of the sounds and bands of yesteryear… Progressive Rock bands like; Yes, Rush, Kansas, Genesis, Styx, Frampton, Asia, Angel, and early Journey to name just a few. The middle section delves into some heavily laden percussion with killer call and response gymnastic guitar antics. The drums throughout the track sound just amazing. This composition definitely falls under the word “Sonic!” I love the wide stereo sound that is employed throughout, challenging the artist to place his instruments carefully without letting one instrument step on the other. Great production!
Song Four – Dreaming Aboard an Alien Aircraft
The song fades in with multi-layered lead solo arrangements that are reminiscent of an epic-concept album returning its core theme… and, very Genesis sounding in nature. On the second phase of the track there is some Van Halen –esque moments with some new jack city back beats that would make any gentlemen’s club come alive, and then on to some pristine sounding open chordal playing… ala Chris Rea / Mark Knopfler with a tight percussive, bouncing bass and a steady drum line… Tone is about everything and Todd achieves his Zappa meets Eric Johnson tune with an awesome cacophony of guitar bliss.
Song Five – Edith
Andreas Vollenweider instantly comes to mind when listening to the beginning of this piece with sounds of water splashing, and voices lightly speaking in the foreground. The song builds to a ballad like progression and the Celtic sounding lead line tells kind of a story of possible lost love and heart-ache. The acoustic guitars are lightly played between the channels with a nice soft strumming gate which then leads into a classically sounding piano piece with harmonic minor strewn lead lines and arpeggio ridden extravaganzas.
Todd Grubb’s influences run from Steve Vai, Jeff Beck and Alan Holdsworth to John Coltrane, the Beatles and Frank Zappa. It’s really amazing to hear such a wide variety of instrumental music from an artist… He has also released 3 more instrumental guitar CD’s Beautiful Device, Toddities Vol. 1 and Combination. Guitar World sums it up when they say “With a clear soaring tone, Grubbs has the chops to keep the shred heads satisfied but it's certainly not his raison d' etre, more interested in melody and feel than speed, Grubbs knows when to hold back as much as when to fire away.”
Song Six – The Electric Life
Wow! Dark clouds with thunder gathering in the distance all the while the winds swirl around the massive jungle pounding acoustic skins as if King Kong were beating on his massive chest. The dark sound of growling guitars in the back ground makes things feel mystifying and sinister. Subsequently… here comes the waterfall of musical notes lightly falling and bouncing lazily on the rocks below into a pool of flowing sounds of rapture. Once again, Eric Johnson comes to mind when hearing Todd’s beautiful embellishments. At some points, the guitar has this backward feel to it or as each note electrically fuses together from one to the other… neat sounding FX stuff. Then… in mid flight… the tune turns very anthem-matic and percussive. And then again back to the theme of the song. Like I’ve said… every measure turns a corner and doesn’t even look back.
Song Seven – A View from Inner Space
I love this spaced out Santana / Neal Schon-esque romp through some rock fusion laden arrangements. I remember back in the early days of Journey when Schon would go off on some Jan Hammer inspired lead solo jamz. I even hear some early Ernie Isley influences too… However, all this soundz very modern with his quality mixing & engineering. There is an ol’ skool funny sounding jaw-harp line meandering its way through the song that keeps disappearing and reappearing. Todd’s uses both channels here to really get into “cutting some heads” on the guitar… Once again, keeping everything off kilter in his songwriting and arrangements.
Song Eight – The Argument
“The Argument” starts with some crotch rock in your face grooves. The riffs are right out of the book on How to be a Rock Skool Guitar God! Bump and grind is the type of rhythm and beats we’re talking here. The chilling lead guitar work talks to you… Again, Vai comes to mind. Next, the songs turns into a Frampton sounding extravaganza strewn with a FX wah / talk-box and a tight funky bass line to polish it up… then on to some euro-metal arrangements and guitar playing for the ending piece. Maybe this song should have been called “Attitude!”
Song Nine – You Are Here
This Zappa inspired ditty is very happy sounding and uplifting… the lead lines are playful and remember able… Almost like listening to a little kids nursery rhyme tune. However, the musical ride takes a turn into the Jeff Beck, Al DiMeola, Ian Hammer space cadet fusion mode and then on to an to some progressive rock soloing while the song comes back to it’s original origins. This song is one that’s hard to pin down arrangement-wise. However, the song flows effortlessly from one section to another.
Song Ten – The Ballad of Emy and LU
Its Tubbie Time! this music reminds me of Eric Johnson all the way… I’ve seen Eric several times and this guy has got that dreamy guitar playing style down. The tones on Todd’s guitar are incredible. In the back ground you hear children playing and babies talking and laughing. Very relaxing indeed… I really dig the lead phrasing on this… Todd takes his music and listeners to some of the most unexpected places spiritually, emotionally, and sonically leaving you just exhilarated and refreshed.
Song Eleven – Curved Time
Metallica sounding in nature, the beginning starts with some kick-axe percussive guitar playing. Lars would be proud of the pounding hammer hitting on those skins while thrusting the song forward. Then the song turns into a Satriani inspired “Surfin with the Alien” theme. Man… this guy can create so many types of metal beats and riffs it isn’t funny… Now we have worked our way into a southern rock extravaganza (Free-Bird comes to mind) to cap off the end of the Album.
My mind, body and soul have been well entertained by Todd Grubb’s new CD “Time, Space and The Electric” and I highly recommend getting this CD to have a listen for yourself and you’ll be glad you did… If rock instrumental guitar is your bag… then, don’t look any further… this album has your name on it!
I give Todd Grubb’s new CD “Time, Space and The Electric” a “9” out of 10.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
1. Has been performing and recording for over 25 years
2. Studied at Berklee college of music in Boston
3. Voted most outstanding guitarist at Tampa Bay Music Awards
4. Named best guitarist in Creative Loafings' "Best of the Bay"
5. Has released 4 instrumental guitar CD’s Time, Space and the Electric, Beautiful Device, Toddities Vol. 1 and Combination.
6. Played on and produced jam rockers 3 Green Windows' debut Red Door
7.Influences run from Steve Vai, Jeff Beck and Alan Holdsworth to John
Coltrane, the Beatles and Frank Zappa