Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
|The Aqua Velvets are the San Francisco Bay Area's cleanest and best surf/lounge instrumental band. The tunes are even more evocative of mysterious and romantic settings then ever. Great guitar work, really nice bass, and great drums too. Some of the faster tracks used an experimental out-of-phase drum mix that's a bit hard to get used to, but that doesn't lessen the beauty and power of this CD. Now, no one ever said the Aqua Velvets were a pure surf band. They have had their hearts in the Spaghetti Western sounds of Enio Morricone, the Lounge moods of Martin Denny, and the psychedelicatessen of the Grateful Dead, all over a solid surf sensibility. If there is one characteristic of their music that rises above all others, it is the power of the images that it evokes. These guys should be doing soundtracks.|
Picks: Nomad, Surf Nouveau, Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean, Holy Tiki, Snorkel Mask Replica, Return To Paia, Ho'okipa, In A Spanish Mood, Nervous On Neptune, Summer At Dreampoint, Shakahoochie, Shrunken Head
Track by Track Review
Rockin' Surf (Instrumental)
The title track "Nomad" is a stunningly beautiful track, projecting exotic South American coastal scene viewed from the patio of a cantina.
Surf Moderne (Instrumental)
A cool surf rocker of moderate tempo and infectious melody. It's one of several tracks on the CD where the drums are intentionally out of phase left-to-right, giving them a highly present feel without interfering with the guitar lines. It took me a while to get used to this effect.
Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean
Thirties Bar Scene Surf (Instrumental)
"Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean" has a thirties film exotic bar scene feel about it, with just the right rhythm.
Tiki Lounge Surf (Instrumental)
"Holy Tiki" is a high energy number with a chord progression that reminded me of the 80's somehow. The song is progression oriented, seemingly simple with a nice hook.
The Captain's Surf (Instrumental)
With a title nod to Captain Beefheart, "Snorkel Mask Replica" is a jazzy tremolo tune of moderate pace. The leads are long flowing notes stretched out over a cool choppy rhythm. It reminded me slightly of some of Charles Lloyd's work for A&M in the early seventies.
Stunningly Gorgeous Sensuous Surf (Instrumental)
For shear beauty, it's hard to beat "Return To Paia," a very comfortable surf tune that fits with sitting on a longboard at sunset waiting for a swell to take you home. It's simply beautiful.
Mysterious Surf (Instrumental)
"Ho'okipa" is a fast tempo song with the drum phase effect. It is a chord dominated progression that evokes a weekend drive down a mysterious road.
Romantic Surf (Instrumental)
"In A Spanish Mood" brings you back to the cantina at dusk with a señorita gently swaying to the music in the background.
New Dawn Surf (Instrumental)
"Nervous On Neptune" has a new day dawning feel about it, a sort of I-don't-know-what-lies-ahead anticipation combined with the quiet excitement of I-can-do-anything.
Vacation Surf (Instrumental)
"Summer At Dreampoint" displays laid back hot summer daze in a near djapana state.
"Shakahoochie" is an ethnically oriented perfect soundtrack number.
Surf Reggae Lounge (Instrumental)
"Shrunken Head" is mistitled, it seems to me. It's a reggae tune that's quite relaxing and pretty. This song goes back to the late seventies and an earlier band called Mojo. It was written for them, but they didn't use it. It had lyrics then. What they missed is one hell of a grand song!