Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: Instro Nation [Vol 1]
|Back in 1995, Orange Records (Tower Records Japan) compiled a hefty slab of reverbin' gnarl for the 90's. There are some wonderful tracks, and a few disappointments. All in all, a really good compilation. My hat's off to Insect Surfer Dave Arnson, who honchoed this thing. When's volume 2 coming?|
Picks: Surf Cruiser, Stingray, El Conquistador, El Rey, Moon Race, Swept Away, Soul Penetration, Pipeline To Baghdad, Top Fueler Stomp, Western Stars, Krakatoa, Angel With A Devil's Heart, Insecticide, Another Odd Job, Raglan
Track by Track Review
Highly rhythmic sound from a SoCal band founded to fill the void left by ex-Surf Raider Loyd Davis. The recording is garagie, probably ambient, with much the same sound as many of the Surf Raiders issues, bass heavy, muddy, and thuddy dull sound. "Surf Cruiser" is typical of the Surf Raiders. It plods along at mid tempo in search of energy. Quite listenable, but not demanding of your attention.
Southwest Desert Surf (Instrumental)
"Stingray" features those wonderful dueling Insect leads over a chunky bottom end. It hollers fun and melody.
Spaghetti Western Surf (Instrumental)
Thick chords drive the cows across the plain, the rolling drums carry the chuck wagon to the next encampment, and the fine melody speaks of solitude and open spaces. This is a really nice track, picturesque and melodic, and very enjoyable.
Satan's Pilgrims play from a trad base, but are branching into their own brand with originals. They have some work to do on recording well, but this track rules! Satan chunk, surf riff dominated instro small combo instro power, and splendid energy. They walk the plank between garage and pure surf.
The Boardwalkers cover a surf obscuro from Midwest band the Citations. It's great to hear someone do this song, but this recording suffers from the same problem all their others do (all sounding like they were recorded in the same garage with a pair of ambient mics), marginal sound, weak mix, massive phasing problems, poor imaging, and loss of dynamics. By all accounts I've heard, this is a really good band. They need to get into a good recording situation.
Big Guitar (Instrumental)
Shig & Buzz are a pair of San Francisco Bay players with a pedigree a mile long. Shig has played with Hot Tuna & the Plastic Ono Band, and Buzz is Peter Miller of Peter and the Jaywalkers in the UK in the early sixties, and session player for the legendary Joe Meek. I'd really like to get these fellows into KFJC for a studio session. This is swimming in Hank Marvinisms. It oozes the soul of the British instrumental. Friendly and very warm. Shig and Buzz rule!
This really slow blues/jazz styling doesn't compliment "Penetration" at all. The guitorgan detracts from the sound of the track. It's the cheesy stuff Jimmy Smith would have done. It has less surf feel than Steve Kahn's jazz-fusion version of the song.
3 Balls Of Fire is an Austin based surf oriented band with a unique, laid back, quietly recorded, 3 alarm chili for lunch sound. Chunky, surf-n-blues based number with smoothly dribbled double pick leads and bluesy whammy. This is ripe for a full surf treatment. That's not a complaint. This arrangement is very strong. There is a lot of power in the guitar performance, and ample draw to the final product. Great track.
Evan Foster's Boss Martians do a really cool instro. Their approach is trad and authentic.
There's no more unusual or enjoyable band than the Reventlos. They ride out at the edge of the surf universe, drafting every lick they've collectively used in past bands, and they do so using a splendid sense of juxtaposition and art. This appealing track flows with a tropical feel over a funky bed. Very nifty.
I've been playing "Krakatoa" for quite a while. Both of their CD's are worth a spot in your collection. "Krakatoa" was a great single, and it still commands attention. Very powerful and evil. The Volcanos are a radical high energy strait ahead hard driving surf outfit.
Angel With A Devil's Heart
Biker Fuzz (Instrumental)
Melodic and powerful fuzzola, as you must expect by now. This track is a fine example of how effective the combination of melody and distortion can be.
Written in honor to the Insect Surfers, this masterful track features Pollo Del Mar's trademark dueling guitars, something the Insects also widely use. The guitars are intense, and the desert mysteriously appears in your mind's eye as you bath in the soundscape. Gettin' air off a snowboard racing down a sand dune just barely avoiding the major scuffing a wipe out would deliver. Wow!
Fuzz Surf (Instrumental)
This slower track uses really nice guitar work to keep the simple riff afloat. Too repetitious to stand alone, but worth a spin if just for the tasty playing.
The Mermen's track was recorded at Summer Surf, so naturally I think it RULES! These guys have pushed the envelope so far out that they're in imminent danger of leaving orbit. They have a huge psychedelic howling mystical haunting beautiful monstrous sound. Besides that, I like 'em! They are in a class by themselves. Comparing them to other surf-based artists is silly. They are on a completely different plane. The Mermen paint oceanic soundscapes. The irritate the purists and capture the hearts of the adventurous. "Raglan" is a very melodic and sad song, with imagery of a wind swept island on a hot tropical day, with the love of your life fading in the distance. Highly emotional.