Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Brine - The Antisurf Soundtrackdotdotdot
artworkA fine collection of mostly non-surf instros, compiled by the fertile mind of Allen Whitman. A solid sampling of the arty side of the instro scene today.
Picks: A Produce - Inscape and Landscape, Brothers Of Different Mothers - Small Craft Advisory, The Chris Shahin Trio - Emancipate This Water Planet, The Elevator Drops - The Last Fourth Of July ...Ever, Lanterna - End Of The Tunnel, The Mermen - Brine (The Smell Beneath The Stage), The Penetrators - The Wind Beneath My Kilt, Plexi - Bunny, Scenic - Angelica

Track by Track Review


A Produce - Inscape and Landscape dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is based interesting soundtrack incidental effects and an airy quality about the keyboards sounds. It has a lot of atmosphere - dank and drippy, stale air, but with a hint of daylight at the end of the tunnel. Nice.

Brothers Of Different Mothers - Small Craft Advisory dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a reggae-like bass line way down under the melodic guitar lead and the Latin influenced rhythm track, this ends up being a very nice track. The moderate pace works well, and the guitar tones are quite nice. It would fit into a surf set easily enough. I found myself coming back to it. Good track.

The Chris Shahin Trio - Emancipate This Water Planet dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Chris Shahin's collection of musicians have a tendency to make the absolute most of every song Chris writes. His writing tends to be very melodic, unusual, and jazz based, which is perfectly understandable, given their backgrounds in jazz and involvement in jazz bands. It is quite unusual to see surf or jazz instro guys reading sheet music, but they often do while in live performance. They are formally trained for the most part, and accomplished musicians. They have a CD due out next month. This track is a sad and very pretty song, and is a good representative of Chris' slower vision of the world.

DJ Spooky - Hologrammatic Dub dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As this sort of thing goes, it's OK. I have a hard time listening to something with highly repetitious drum machine beat lines and sequenced keyboard patterns that just go on for ever. This does gradually build to a crescendo of sorts, but it takes so long to get there, that I gave up half way through. Pass.

Dragline - Lovely dotdot
Surf (Vocal)

A decade ago, New Zealand's Chills were doing things like this, only much better. Pedestrian, derivative, and dated.

The Elevator Drops - The Last Fourth Of July ...Ever dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Subtle sounds, distant ambient effects, nice guitar tones, spooky atmospherics, and a bell-like quality. Again, more a soundtrack for your life than a song, but I found it pleasant listening anyway.

Lanterna - End Of The Tunnel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ringing guitar notes open the track like those in the beginning of the Dream Syndicate's version of the Lonely Bull. The melody is not that strong, but the textures and tones keep you hooked, as do the changes. A nice track. Moody, spatial, romantically sad. It has a certain imagery about it, which for me brought to mind dusk at the shore, lonely and healing. A nice track.

Loop Guru - Soulus dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

So, if dance club trance is your cup of tee, then fine, but for me this is just contrived and boring. Sorry, but I have no interest in this sort of thing at all.

The Mermen - Brine (The Smell Beneath The Stage) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slowly building from a gentle moody on the edge of feedback Jim Thomas intro, this track is both beautiful and eerie, with the feedback merging with the vibrato, and the eventually arriving melody matched with Jim's new keyboard sounds. Imagery and spatially haunting are the keywords here. Of course, I never met a Mermen track I didn't like. A live recording from who knows where. Jim's guitar tones include keyboard-like sounds and extreme vibrato throbbing. It is a cool nearly ambient mood piece that demands your attention while lulling you into a false sense of security.

The Penetrators - The Wind Beneath My Kilt dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It had to happen. Scottish surf... more Scottish than the Chantays' "Scotch Highs." Yeow! This is just so infectious. It gets lots of calls on my show, and I understand totally. So, there is no way to avoid the charm and creativity of the Penetrators, and when they cut this wonderful merger between surf and Scottish traditional music, well... The last time anyone came close to this sort of thing was when the Amboy Dukes cut "Scottish Tea" on their seminal Journey To the Center Of Your Mind album. This is pristine, melodic, endearing, and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. A must have track! Awesome, boys!

Plexi - Bunny dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Some nice production, eerie sounds, and the kind of haunting effects that you might expect from soundtrack incidental music for a gloomy war flick. Very moody, dark, brooding, and ominous. Much more interesting than Scenic, but not as interesting as the Mermen. The sudden end seems harsh and unintentional, or just bad judgment.

The Satellites Four - Earthless dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Maybe the title should have been "Pointless." Little or no direction. A pleasant backgrounder for those who don't really listen to music, but like to coexist with it.

Scenic - Angelica dotdotdot
Southwest Desert Island Ambient Soundtrack (Instrumental)

Evil tonality and chorale keys provide heavy syrup. Progressive post ambient backtrack music for you to create some focus over the top of. I don't find Scenic to be particularly interesting or demanding of attention. Excellent background for your work-a-day world, but forget it for focused listening. It just goes on and on, never arriving anywhere, and the journey is not marked by any interesting stations along the way. Like a Greyhound bus between stations, there seems to be no end in sight. Tedious listening.