Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Martin Cilia - Revenge Of The Surf Guitar (16 Instrumental Backing Tracks For You To Take The Lead And Play Along With)dotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a great concept long overdue. The Ventures sorta did it with a series of vinyl in the sixties, and they taught a long list of players to find their way around the guitar with many surf instros. Forty years later, Martin Cilia gives the idea a different spin, providing an album's worth of music sans lead guitar for budding guitarists to play along with. It's a companion release to his newest CD, since that's where you'll find the melody lines.
Picks: 1963, Surf's Up, Reverb Beach, Under The Hood, Return Of The Surf Guitar, Surfabilly, Freak Out, Point Danger, The Worm, Black Jaguar, Flight Of The Surf Guitar, Queen Kahuna, Cronulla Point, Surfride, Riff A Go Go, Mermaid Beach

Track by Track Review

1963 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"1963" is a lovely thirty-eight second surfy reverb guitar duet that lulls you into a perfect space to accept the coming flood of surf grooves.

Surf's Up dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a remarkably cool track that relies heavily on the interplay between the surf pattern rhythm guitar and whammified lead that ride atop superb bass and surf drums. "Surf's Up" is a wonderful track that's just perfect. Rhythmic, infectious, motion oriented, and thoroughly cool. You might guess from all this that I really like it! Martin first cut this song with the Atlantics.

Reverb Beach dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The fine balance between the muted surf rhythm pattern and the fluid surf melody create magnetism that draws you in. The beat and bass lines complete this splendid picture. Optimistic, aquatic, visual, and thrilling.

Under The Hood dotdotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

Lovely Mermen-esq chords, tribal drums, surf rhythm, whammified leads, and moody bass portray a bit of a spy feeling. "Under The Hood" sparkles with a grand blend of Aussie and US surf ideas, mediated with espionage. I think this arrangement is more infectious than when Martin Cilia recorded it with the Atlantics.

Return Of The Surf Guitar dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Return Of The Surf Guitar" sounds like it might be a merger of the Atlantics' style, west coast surf's arrangements, and the flair of the Baltic surfbands. Infectious, rhythmic, and rich in changes and aural quality. Excellent!

Surfabilly dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Surfabilly" is a wonderful romp through a delightful riff. Its energy and sparkle are splendid, and its forward momentum rather infectious. While extremely close to a merger of Splashback/Vara-Tones's "Over The Edge," it's also pretty fresh sounding.

Freak Out dot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great tribal surf drums launch this epic stomper. The circulating riff recalls presurf rockabilly days, yet is entirely within the surf genre. Splashy and invigorating, the surf rhythm tries to hold down the flying lead jams, but cannot. If "Freakout" sounds familiar, it's because Martin cut it with the Atlantics. Simply fun.

Point Danger dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Perhaps the optimism in "Point Danger" is from the exuberance of the challenge that seems to call to surfers as they look at such namesake curl. I say that only because this song is not the least bit ominous as I expected from the title, but rather is a celebration of the liquid adventure. Reverb rhythm and sparkling leads.

The Worm dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Worm" is an utterly infectious song perfectly suited for a dawn rode down that coastal highway with the sea on your right and the perfect spot just ahead. In some ways reminiscent of the Carnations' "Scorpion," this song prances on great drums and a relentless progression. This is not in any way related to the quirky Buddy Merrill song of the same title.

Black Jaguar dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal in an exotic ways, exotic is a mysterious island vein, and purely surf in every other way, "Black Jaguar" employs guitars that are more than lead and rhythm as they circle around each other and intertwine until they are one. They are panned left and right, but I can imagine either being mixed center as lead with the other circling in an active panning swirl in support. Both are playing on the same basic melody idea in different ways to great effect. Wonderful.

Flight Of The Surf Guitar dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Martin Cilia launched this song with the Atlantics, and I though it was amazing. Different in some ways here, yet no less intensely circular and infectious. "Flight Of The Surf Guitar" is just what its title implies, a flight of delightful surf guitars. Glissandos and playful melody lines abound, as does that signature Australian whammy.

Queen Kahuna dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Queen Kahuna" has a classic surf rhythm feel and a carnival edge via keys that play the melody in some verses. Organ is a hard instrument to make work in surf because of the nature of the songs and guitar styles, which is why piano was much more common in the early days of surf. However, the keys here are simply charming and fun, and provide a great counterpoint to the guitars. Excellent!

Cronulla Point dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Cronulla Point" is a an often crowded surf spot in Sydney South, but you would only know about the thrill of the consistent rides from this frill-laden song. The melody line celebrates, the frills laugh, the rhythm and drums rumble with the energy of the curl, and all that adds up to a high spirited visual track that's really hard to dislike. Excellent!

Surfride dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lovely muted chords and gentle tribal rhythm support a melody born of the Bambi Molesters' "Tremor" that's a sparkling and completely delightful adventure in an easy afternoon ride on a long glassy face. The delicate balance between the circling guitars is superb.

Riff A Go Go dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Stompin and shining with surf enthusiasm, "Riff A Go Go" is no mere riff rocker, but is a full fledge adventure in Australian surf. The rhythm is a bit spy ish, as perhaps is the melody. Lovely whammy action on the chords and great balance between guitars. Very well arranged.

Mermaid Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Mermaid Beach" floats gently with the the kind of island emotion that Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" has, though this is a guitar solo. Lovely, spatial, atmospheric, and visual. I'd love to hear this in a band arrangement, because I believe it would have immense appeal.