Following a string of self-released singles, the ‘Cosmic Wave’ EP is guitarist Gia G’s first outing for Sliptrick Records, sometime home for groove metallers Bless The Dead and Canadian prog metal titans Red Cain. Perhaps more importantly, her move to the European metal label places her alongside fellow fretboard melters Dr. Schafausen and Age of Fire, giving her a step up.
The three tracks that make up ‘Cosmic Wave’ often value melody over showboating, as you’d expect from someone whose chief influences include the legendary Jeff Beck. With Eddie Van Halen squarely in the frame as her other major love, her material still offers plenty for listeners who love a busier approach. With each of the EP’s tunes taking on a very distinctly different identity, it creates a very effective musical CV, despite being rather short.
The title cut leads everything off in great style when a heartbeat rhythm sets up a groove and Gia delivers a few clean notes. The slightly shrill and short bursts of sound soon take the shape of massive bluesy cries, and it isn’t long before massive melodies fill the space. Moving into the meat of the performance, the melodic rock back drop sets up a solid sound, but always ensures Gia is the main focus. First she drops into a brilliant soaring melody that calls back to key moments from Jan Cyrka’s classic ‘Beyond The Common Ground’; then, with an increase in rhythm and tempo, a couple of scorching solos bring a melodic metal treat that mixes elements of classic EVH with a little more of Gia’s own vaguely bluesy twist. Her lead work is incredibly sharp, occasionally veering towards a full scale shred, but always keeping a close ear on melody. With two or three distinctly different influences and styles at the heart of her playing style, this could easily sustain an extra couple of minutes, but it’s to the performer’s credit that everything is done and dusted within three, leaving no room for bloat or a lapse of focus.
Also very confident, ‘Intrical Fusion’ places huge, crying leads above a semi funky groove in a way that makes Gia’s arrangement sound like an old Satriani piece that feels as if it would love to stretch out into fusion…but never quite gets there. Whether she’s throwing out massive, soaring sounds above a militaristic drum part, or dropping equally big whammied notes above a taut funk bass – brilliantly played by Paul Angle – her approach appears effortless, and when peppering the most melodic elements with staccato lead work, dirtier flourishes, or even intricate finger picking, her playing is never less than perfect. In mixing up the rock with a little funk and occasionally hinting at a band who could dabble with jazz, these five minutes sound both vibrant and nostalgic. There’s a lot here that’ll appeal to the output from the much-missed Food For Thought label, but it’s actually outshone by ‘Reminiscing’ which scales everything back to introduce a few acoustic sounds, some terrific harmonics – obviously influenced by EVH, but actually sounding a little more like classic Steve Hackett – and a mournful melody that allows for a more spacious feel. The ballad-centic approach, obviously, is perfect for another soaring guitar, and Gia fills the track with sounds that fall somewhere between the slower numbers from Jeff Beck’s classic ‘Guitar Shop’ LP and one of Satriani’s brilliant ballads from the 90s. It isn’t entirely original, but it doesn’t have to be; in terms of core melody, feel and tone, it’s a performance that hits everything square on, and the relatively stripped down arrangement really allows the listener to get to the heart of the main melody itself.
This all too short exploration of Gia G’s talents very quickly uncovers a player who has a great tone, and an equally good ear for a tune. In just three numbers it sets up a precedent that she could likely play any variant of melodic rock and blues she chooses, and do so with ease. For those who spent a lot of the 90s and beyond seeking out guitar instrumental works, this EP is a solid reminder of why you’ve continued to love so much stuff in that mould. A recommended listen.