An unforgiving noun invoking clear mental images of cars brought to a rusting standstill, bumper-to-bumper for blocks in every direction. An American term grid as a shortening of gridiron appeared in the popular vernacular around 1839. A gridiron is an iron grate used to cook meats over coals.

Grids call for some clarification. In the 1930s, power companies in Britain constructed a countrywide system of high-voltage transmission lines to provide electricity to consumers. It was named the National Grid, a phrase that spread to other parts of the world. Soon this borrowed term was abbreviated to Grid and others borrowed that name. Soon most people understood grid to mean a “network of transmission lines," by 1954 town planners were using” grids” for planning city roads. A combination of the words grid and lock, it’s also called a traffic jam and describes major intersections that are blocked and vehicles are unable to move because of their extreme numbers. Even in Charles Dickens’s time the compound word was used to explain a "a complete lack of movement or progress resulting in a backup or stagnation" From this the term gridlock may have been coined by engineers to describe the “obstruction of urban traffic caused by lines of vehicles forming across junctions and causing further line to form in the intersecting streets.”

Other words that come to mind depicting delays are bottleneck, hitch, obstruction, setback, snag, and stoppage. Eventually a metaphor emerged when a point in a clash when no agreement can be reached, as well as to mean there is a delay or setback. Naturally, traffic engineers don't use the everyday term "gridlock." Instead they explain traffic conditions according to "levels of service," which is a formal system of defining the condition of traffic flow. In the long run drivers will have to arrive at a decision if they are benefiting from life in the fast lane at 30 miles per hour and this muddle of movement gets more perilous every day. In Manila, traffic officers were told to perform the Macarena to avoid traffic congestion. It was a flop.

Oddly enough pedlock has been added to the dictionaries. It’s a combination of pedestrian and gridlock that has surfaced to explain what happens when a place is so crowded that people can’t move easily in any direction. Probably the most unique evolution of the expression to date can be found in the zebrafish. These familiar tenants of home aquariums make it an ideal organism for developmental biologists to use in studying how organs are formed during embryogenesis. Dr Tao P. Zhong at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee describes the essential task of a gene— called gridlock— that influences the outcome of precursor cells that will go on to become blood vessels:

    The embryos are clear and develop outside of the mother’s body, allowing scientists to watch a zebrafish embryo grow into a newly formed fish under a microscope. This transparency makes observation of anatomical defects caused by genetic mutation easier. Moreover, zebrafish are particularly useful for studies of cardiovascular defects since survival of the embryos is not dependent on circulating blood flow. An obscure, torpedo-shaped fish that hails from India’s Ganges River.

    ……zebrafish embryos as a model for understanding a type of human blood vessel blockage seen in newborns called coarctation of the aorta. Though coarctation is a common occurrence routinely screened for by pediatricians, little is known of the cause. ..(It’s) a congenital cardiovascular disease,” Zhong said, “where a malformation, or blockage, occurs in the aorta during development. The child can survive with reconstruction of the area blood vessels—an adaptive mechanism takes place.”

Zhong and his colleagues published their work in the November 2002 issue of the journal Nature. In it they illustrate how a mutation in the gene had in the past been shown to interrupt development of major blood vessels in zebrafish embryos, causing a stoppage of circulatory “traffic.” Dr. Zhong has used this animal model to systematically focus in on how the protein encoded by gridlock is involved in the genesis of blood vessels.


Blood vessel study uses zebrafish: - Books - Brave new words - July 3, 2000


Online Etymology Dictionary:

This week planner is providing study material for two weeks ...:

Trivial Trivia: July '98:

Senior Thesis: RRuppel/Symposium/Jason.html

Gridlock - an abstract strategy game for Icehouse pieces (4 player).
Designed by Andrew Looney of Looney Labs.

  • Required pieces
  • Give each person a full set of Icehouse pyramids of a single color.
  • Select a starting person at random.
  • Select an initial position of the token - not the starting person
Placement Phase
  • During the first phase of the game, players take turns placing a pyramid of their choice somewhere on the chessboard.
  • The pyramids are placed in an upright position until all pieces have been played
Drop Phase
  • Each player will choose a piece of their color that is still standing and "drop" it - knocking it over so it is pointing away from the player.
  • After a piece has been dropped its color is no longer significant.
  • When a piece is dropped, it re-orients one or more pieces immediately in front of it to the direction it is pointing.
    • Small pieces re-orient the piece
    • Medium pieces re-orient two pieces
    • Large pieces re-orient three pieces
  • Only previously dropped pieces can be re-oriented
The Token
The token allows you to skip your turn. Whoever your turn comes up, if you have the token, you can pass it in the direction of play instead of playing. However, two turns in a row may not be skipped - you cannot skip your turn if you were just passed the token.
The object is to end up with the most chains of pieces pointing in your direction as possible. A single piece pointing in your direction is worth 1 point. However, having 4 pieces in adjacent squares that all point in your way is worth 8 points.

Points = 2length-1
A chain across the entire board (length 8) is worth 128 points.

  • <, >, ^, v: dropped pieces pointing in various directions
  • s, m, l; S, M, L: Standing pieces owned by two different players

Dropping a piece

turn 1 -> turn 2 -> turn 3 -> turn 4
s S s     s S s     s S s     s S s
s < m     s ^ m     > > m     < < <
m l L     m ^ L     m ^ L     m ^ L

Original rules at:

Gridlock (1993 - 2005)

Genre: Electronic/Industrial/Ambient/IDM
Members: Mike Wells, Mike Cadoo

I first happened upon this band in 1999, while doing a stint at KVRX, UT Austin's student radio station, full of hippies, goths, metalheads and other assorted popularity contest rejects - and above all, full of free, unusual music. I had my eyes opened to world music, electronic music, and a good deal of jazz and blues. This background is required to understand that even though my music sapience and awareness was expanding at a phenomenal pace, Gridlock still blew me away. The only other awakenings like that have occurred upon first finding Mogwai and dj Cheb i Sabah - that's not to say the music is similar, but the utilisation and composition of sounds and techniques formerly taken for granted in such a new way is quite eye- (and ear-) opening.
Note: assorted sources claim gridlock will be pleasing to fans of Haujobb or Skinny Puppy. I disagree (can't listen to either of them without cringing eventually - I keep finding pounding beats driving the music, which are completely absent in Gridlock), but there it is.

Utilizing drawn out synthetic sounds in the backdrop, assorted machinery noises and especially '80s arcade noises, Gridlock's Mike Wells and Mike Cadoo of San Francisco make genre defiance look easy. Elements of industrial, IDM and ambient are all present, but none dominates, although buildups through slow and sweeping sounds often do crash into resolutions of harsh noise. Slow melodies, fast and rapidly changing beats dominate.


Founded in 1994 in San Francisco, the project was started by Mike Wells in an attempt to create a "dark, emotional sound". Mike Cadoo joined in '95, and after creating the "Sickness" and "Frozen" demos they signed with Pendragon Records in 1997.

Pendragon was able to release Gridlock's first two albums, but then went the way of many a indie label and folded. Following a fire at their San Francisco studio, Mike & Mike moved to Oakland and returned onto the scene with a deal with the Unit label, which released their Trace album as well as sponsoring the Mikes' independent efforts, O2 and Dryft.

Although the bulk of Gridlock's released work stems from albums created by both members, they each have side-projects and remixes aplenty. Mike Cadoo has created dryft and released two albums, Cell and mytotyc exyt, the latter of which I have (still looking for the first). Mike Wells created O2 - no info on this one yet, as I've only recently obtained it and am busily transcribing the LPs onto CD format. Yep, these guys have quite a few releases which are on LP/EP only.

Their website has now been archived fully at It contains the archived forum, discography and a Gridlock retrospective.

Mike Wells, is a Mastering Engineer at, providing mastering, restoration, and other music services.

Side Bits

Apparently, since November 2000, Mike Cadoo has been the sole proprietor/operator of N5MD label (, specializing in finding and publishing artists of the "more emotional type of electronic music", primarily on the MiniDisc format. Mr. Cadoo is a bit of a minidisc fanatic, and thinks that it is quite well suited to these types of sounds...

Gridlock has officially dissolved in March of 2005. Mike Wells has written up a full Gridlock retrospective at this address ( which makes for some interesting reading. The Mikes are still pursuing their own visions of the music they enjoy playing and making - just separately.

Discography - Albums

I will keep these simple because writing about music is like dancing about architecture; I've also forsworn music reviewing after working at AudioGalaxy for a while.

tHe sYntheTic FoRm (09/1997)
Format: CD
Label: Pendragon
This was actually the second Gridlock CD I've acquired, and found it to be far more structured (read: simple) than expected. Actual beats and melodies are far more easily discerned, and the industrial noise forms the background percussion. There is also a strong focus on the sinister, whispery vocals. These alternate with slow, pulsing, atmospheric and chilling tracks that wouldn't seem out of place in the movie Alien (only the first one) or the game System Shock II - for those unfamiliar with those, there is an aura of suspense, rising, nightmarish dread interrupted by brief bouts of violent resolution. That's this album in a nutshell.

Track Listing
1. Frantic
2. Halo (Rebirth)
3. (unlisted)
4. Sickness
5. (unlisted)
6. Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus
7. (unlisted)
8. Retina
9. Wound
10. (unlisted)
11. Burn
12. Ich Dien
13. (unlisted)
14. Only Living Witness
15. Thin White Line
16. Regret
17. Burn (Mantra)
18. Frantic (Stark-Raving Mad)
further (04/1999)
Format: CD
Label: Pendragon
Isn't it interesting how so often the CD we hear first we hold to be the vision the artist had for all of their work? I still hold that this is gridlock's best work. Here, the odd, frequently changing beats, electronic video game pulses and eruptions of whispered/sung vocals are supported by a backdrop of sweeping (think of a sine wave with an extremely long period), nearly Vangelis-like synths which carry the melody in an unobtrusive way; silences are used as a hammer. You feel the structure of the music more than hear it.

Track Listing
1. From Zero
2. Ash
3. (unlisted)
4. Sever
5. (unlisted)
6. Cramp
7. Without
8. (unlisted)
9. Here
10. Further
11. Egeszseges
12. Scrape
13. Under
14. Ash - (KSP remix)
15. Enzyme - (Dryft remix)
5.25 (end of 1999)
Format: CD
Label: Pendragon / Metropolis
5.25 was a limited volume album, recently re-released in another limited volume release - you could also send an email to gridlock and most likely Mike or Mike will be able to hook you up - that's how I got mine! It is a collection of live performances and remixes, with a handful of new titles tossed in. The black CD comes in a 5.25 floppy case, itself packaged in a non-resealable anti-static bag. As a collection, it's a fairly eclectic one, from the dancy and rhythmic Halo and II, to the personable and seemingly more emphatic than the originals live performances. The Aghast View remix turns Burn into a completely rhythm-driven danceable track, which tends to stand out on the CD just a bit. Finally, the new material placed at the end of the album tends towards the same structure of slow melodies and fast beats, but the instrumentation used is more echo- and reverb-laden, and more constant in type (less arcadey noises, more in the way of clicks and thumps) on 5.25, more sweeping and grandiose (much like further) on Edit364, and ambient and soothing on Program41 - a very soft and completely unexpected ending.

Track Listing
1. Halo
2. II
3. Metro (cover)
4. Burn (live)
5. Retina (live)
6. s>r
7. Burn (Aghast View remix)
8. Scrape (live)
9. Sever (live)
10. 5.25
11. Edit364
12. Program41
Trace (2001)
Format: CD
Label: Unit
While the slow melodies hiding behind fast, broken up beats are still here, the beats are generated by actual percussion a lot more (as opposed to clicks and thuds and other industrial noises), the mellow sections are overall stronger than in the previous album, and the sinister and whispery male vocals are nearly gone (show up briefly in one track). In tracks 6 and 7, a brief passage of faint female vox appears, adding a soft allure to an already mellow piece. Track 10 fades to nearly complete ambient, sans beat. A fairly radical departure, signifying Gridlock can adapt and evolve.

Track Listing
1. Fix
2. Front
3. Voiceless
4. Uh4.17
5. Uh4.17
6. 397-RALD
7. Estrella
8. Back
9. 364-277
10. 364-277
11. Done
12. Voiceless (Vcam Rmx)
live.traces (2002, following 2001 Trace tour)
Format: CD
Label: S/R
This is a live performance done to promote the Trace album, and it also has a few older pieces on it, enhancing the exposition of the transition from the more harsh sounds into the mellower mood of Trace. As such, it is a superb way to get a feel for all of Gridlock's works up to Trace, and is quite a mindtrip. I'll put in () which album the track was originally on; if none, it's an original. If there is an album I would recommend buying first, this would be it.

Track Listing
1. UH4.17 (Trace)
2. further (further)
3. burn (the synthetic form)
4. estrella (Trace)
5. .0002 (an O2 track)
6. caloc (a Dryft track)
7. ich dien (the synthetic form)
8. voiceless (Trace)
9. bu-yaam
10. recycle
formless (Nov. 2003)
Format: CD
Label: Hymen
If Trace began the evolution of Gridlock's sound, then Formless definitely continues it. This one's moved completely away from industrial influences and relies more so on IDM. The loops are still smooth and underlying sinously, but they are interrupted with bursts of focused speed and aggression - now without harshness.

Track Listing
1. pallid
2. distance
3. return
4. song23
5. invert
6. chrometaphor
7. scratch
8. displacement
9. the 8th winter
10. re/module
11. atomontage
12. done processing

Discography - Singles

gridlock / O2 split (Nov. 2003)
Format: 7"
Label: unit
Engram (Nov. 2003)
Format: 12"
Label: Hymen
gridlock / steel split (Nov. 2003)
Format: 12"
Label: Klangkrieg
Under (Nov. 2003)
Format: 3" CD EP
Label: Piehead

Side Projects

Dryft (Mike Cadoo's side project)

the mytotyc exyt
Format: CD
Label: Component Records (
While there are still slow backdrop synths and faster beats upfront, the beats are now mostly created through actual percussion, although the click and glitch is still present. The tracks are also consistently *gasp* rhythmic, although explosions of randomness spice up the package. This makes for pure, light IDM goodness in which it is hard to discern that this is indeed one half of the creative duo that made Gridlock possible. The relatively unchanging structure of the pieces and underlying steady beats make it as different as can be - yet the sounds and synths are faintly recognizable. If anything, I'd compare it to Cerebral's more mellow work.

Track Listing
1. 39theives (sic)
2. dibt2e
3. caloc (version)
4. drywht
5. mytotyc exyt
6. slalum (eclipsect remix)
7. 39theives (codec remix)
8. mytotyc exyt (O2 remix)

From the O2 site: The O2 project was started as an outlet for minimal electronic music that Mike (Wells) didn't feel fit into the Gridlock sonic landscape.

Currently there are only 2 published tracks, ".0001" which appears on the Gridlock/O2 7" (I have this) available on <unit> records, and ".0002" on the n5MD compilation (sold out, but in theory there's nothing preventing N5MD from making more?) - also on the live.traces CD, still available.
I will be adding the trace 12", Steel/Gridlock, Under 3", Engram and Cell listings and blurbs as I obtain them. Excessive thanks go to Mike Cadoo for tracking me down and filling in the gaps in my Compleat collection.
Official Site:

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