Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Illuminoids - The Secret Society Of The Surf Guitardotdotdot
artworkThis is not your mother's surf. It's very much influenced by Euro instrumentals, particularly of the last decade or to, and has also been heavily influenced by one of my favorite guitar players, Ivan Pongracic. I like this band, in part because they are treading in territory that few American bands do, but also because they have worked very hard to take these songs to this point. The production on this project has advanced a lot over the last year. Most tracks here have pretty sympathetic sound, with an emphasis on the wash of reverb and delayed guitar that many European non-surfbands employ. That's an unusual sound for a band from San Francisco. There is sometimes more reverb wash than the songs need, but that's not to say this isn't a fine album. Be adventurous.
Picks: How Beautiful / Free, Ed Cid, Funeral For Queen Mary, Tropicana Bender, Invisible Hand (Part 2), I Miss You So, Theme From 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.', Ingolstadt Nights, Squares Of The City, She-Wolf Of Lubyanka, The Czar Of Surf Guitar (Tribute To Ivan), Ghost Riders In The Sky, Vanuatu Reef

Track by Track Review

How Beautiful / Free dotdotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

This is a surfier rendering of a song that The Illuminoids have been working on for a while. This brings out its Euro surf flavor and guttiness. This arrangement is attractive to an American Surf ear, while still being quite European sounding.

Ed Cid dotdotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Splendid Spanish charm and tango rhythm charm the socks off you. Fluid, warm, emotional, and very cool. There's a haunting aural quality to "Ed Cid" that's very pleasing.

Funeral For Queen Mary dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Big drama and Euro flair. "Funeral For Queen Mary" is very thematic and full. Whammy twang and intensity.

Tropicana Bender dotdotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

"Tropicana Bender" is a fluid number that features a circulating melody line and a sweeping panorama of sound. The drumming is excellent, and the bass line very cool. The melody line is catchy and aquatic in a vacation sort of way. This reminds me a lot of Angelo Santoro.

Invisible Hand (Part 2) dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Muted reverb rhythm guitar hold up soaring seventies guitar hero lines. "Invisible Hand (Part 2)" is a huge track with much more rock than surf influences. The production is thick, and the intensity high. Way too much track reverb, but this sure does fly high.

I Miss You So dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Echo delayed guitar is spread across the soundscape in a very European fashion. "I Miss You So" is a pretty song.

Theme From 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

This is a heavily textured cover of the TV theme/film score. The arrangement is unusual, but it doesn't really command attention because it is too unchanging.

Ingolstadt Nights dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Stereo guitars play low down in the Jet Harris & Tony Meehan vein as has become kind of a buzz lately. "Ingolstadt Nights" is a tasteful song a catchy riff, but the arrangement doesn't change enough. There are soaring moments, but the over compressed drums seem really dead.

Squares Of The City dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

Heavy rock tone and big stage power sapped by a murky bottom end and compressed drums. "Squares Of The City" wants to fly high, and it surely is spread all over the aural soundscape.

She-Wolf Of Lubyanka dotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

A spy/detective bass line, heavily effected stereo delayed guitar in tremolo torture plays an espionage sounding number. "She-Wolf Of Lubyanka" gradually rises in dramatic flair. There's nervous energy in the tremolo chord sections.

The Czar Of Surf Guitar (Tribute To Ivan) dotdotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

This tribute to Ivan Pongracic (The Madeira & The Space Cossacks) is a nicely written piece with much cleaner sound than most tracks here. Creative drumming, undulating bass, and eastern European themes run throughout "The Czar Of Surf Guitar (Tribute To Ivan)." Very nice!

Ghost Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdot
Euro Rock (Instrumental)

I'm sucker for new versions of "Ghost Riders In The Sky." This is large and twangy and very European. I'm not sure why exactly, the the wash of stereo reverb seems very complimentary here. The bigness and richness of the arrangement is dramatic, and the keys add a sense of strings to this, giving it a bit of sophistication. Very cool!

Vanuatu Reef dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The sea washes the shore as this most surfy of all tracks here comes alive. It's still very European sounding from a tonal standpoint, but the muted reverb rhythm brings it back to California. This is dramatic and soaring at times, rhythmic and puling at others, and even sports some double picking. Very cool!