Space. Sometimes it’s full of riffs. At least that’s the vision of the cosmos laid out by Dutch instrumental heavy rock trio Gigatron2000, who make their debut in the form of the half-hour full-length, The Cosmic Desert Cruise. Grooving out in the unpretentious spirit of Karma to Burn, the guitar/bass/drums three-piece keep to a straightforward approach throughout the album’s 12 tracks, so that each one winds up a crisp riff-led excursion, usually between two and three minutes long, that gets in and gets out and doesn’t waste too much time on extras, either stylistic or in terms of arrangement. Samples crop up here and there, and closer “Starcommand” has a bit of swirl preceding its chugging apex, but Gigatron2000 make themselves at home in the trenches of riffery and wind up with some pretty appealing if familiar nod as a result.
The longest of the bunch is the title-track, “Cosmic Desert Cruise,” which comes on at the halfway point and reaches to 3:48, but the ensuing “Ion Cannon” shaves two minutes off that for a faster rush, and the penultimate “Background Radiation Shielding” is hardly as long as its title, checking in at 1:44. But though they’re short, Gigatron2000‘s songs aren’t lacking for substance or discernible structure. They move quickly from one to the next — marked in places as opener “Ancient Hyperdrive” is by use of samples — and because The Cosmic Desert Cruise as a whole is short, it gives a sense of the band being in a hurry, but nothing here is underdeveloped either. You can hear it in the tempo change on “Ancient Hyperdrive” and in the slowdown that hits later into “First Contact” before drummer Sarban Grimminck picks up the rhythm again to cap with a lead-in push for “Positronic Accelerator.”
Bassist Kevin Kentie and guitarist Gerben van der Aa work mostly in tandem throughout The Cosmic Desert Cruise, and that helps give some of the material a more punkish vibe, but on the whole, Gigatron2000 are playing heavy rock for heads who know what they’re getting when they sign up for a solid half-hour of riffs. The band released a limited tape edition of the album through Tartarus Records that’s sold out, and have CDs for sale the first 100 of which were packaged each with a little robot toy or spaceship (as seen above), but apparently the final robot has gone as well, so kudos to the band both on the sales and the incentive. I mean, who doesn’t want a little toy robot?
In light of that, and the crunch that pops up in Gigatron2000′s riffs, and the fact that though they seem obsessed with space in that let’s-turn-ourselves-into-comic-book-characters (awesome) kind of way, they don’t actually give in to playing psychedelic space rock, The Cosmic Desert Cruisemay be one for those already well converted to the ways of the riff, but it’s still a satisfying and intriguing listen for all that, and Gigatron2000‘s no-frills ethic is bound to continue to serve them well as they press onward into the solar system. I’d be interested to see them work a narrative course into the music — there’s some of that on the Bandcamp page set up for the tape, but none on the CD itself — but for a start, these tracks hold up just fine on their own.