Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Kelp - Live Seaweed [KFJC 8/2/97]dotdotdotdot
artworkSanta Barbara's Kelp were visiting the Bay Area for a show in San Francisco along with Brazil 2001, and both bands stopped by for a live set. Kelp's sound is digital reverb drenched, intelligent, and hungry. They dominate listener attention with numerous changes like you might expect in prog, but not in surf. There's no doubt about the surf imagery, or the fast double picking trad basis, but their hard left turn at the jetty has given them a unique and strong sound. Thanks to Bernard Yin and Brazil 2001 for bringing them into our famous Pit on 8/2/97.
Picks: Pipeline, Spies (James Bond Theme), Guardrail, Piece Of The Action, Underwater Journey, Happy As A Clam, Narcosis, Deadly Creature Below, Valiant, Shrimp Cocktail, Last Call, The Road To Islay, The Liquidator

Track by Track Review

Pipeline dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

When one covers a highly familiar surf classic, it is best to make it your own with some original arranging or reconstructions, much like the Neon Spores did, or even the Bombay Beach Boys. Without a doubt, Kelp have accomplished that. It is not just "Pipeline," it's uniquely arranged, and creatively rethought. It has a whole new character, and not just because they changed it around, but because they actually created several arrangements, which they pass through on the way to the final glissando. It begins with a very cool start-stop arrangement that gives it a sense of drama and gentleness, like holding the breath while deciding not to take a wave not large enough, then it moves into a more trad arrangement for a verse in the middle, before settling into a slow jazzy interpretation over a slinky rockabilly backtrack, which ultimately lets loose into a fast punkoidal rendering. It's all too cool.

Spies (James Bond Theme) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A relatively standard arrangement, with heavy digital reverb, and some unique filigrees. There are some nice changes, and the 'verb creates a distant mysterious air to it. With varying approaches, including faster beats, it has an adequate amount of variation to sustain interest throughout.

Guardrail dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This original is more a progression and an atmosphere than a song. It creates an intense visual of relentless water like might accompany a stormy surf ride in a video.

Piece Of The Action dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slow and slithery intro builds gradually to moderately paced song with a meandering melody line. The overall effect is of a semi-chunky atmospheric piece with both gentility and ominous warnings. The construction of the ambiance is accomplished through a meandering around the base chords on guitar, while the bass and drums carry a beat that is not suggested by the guitar lines, but compliments them well.

Underwater Journey dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a slow and moody piece that creates it's ghostly drifting vision on solo guitar, then finds gentle drums and bass in support rising to the surface. It's a nice track, with a simple and almost aromatic character, like smelling the specter of the shark before you see it. Very cool song. There are several changes here, with an arrangement not without prog influences - complex and intelligent.

Happy As A Clam dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Debating the relative joy of a bivalve mollusk aside, this KFJC track is indeed a happy song, with a highly infectious hook, and a speed driven double picked lead line. It not only laughs with you, it also growls and howls. This is a fine song destined to be a modern classic.

Narcosis dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Kelp are a highly unusual band. They have a different sound, and write different songs... different in many ways, structure, arrangement, melody lines, etc. This is among their more unusual, melodic, interesting, and infectious. This was recorded live at KFJC on August 2nd, 1997 when Bernard Yin and Brazil 2001 brought them into our studio for the first time. I produced it direct to 2 track DAT.

Deadly Creature Below dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Santa Barbara's lone surf contingent delivers a fine surf tune. It's not their best by any means, yet it holds it's own here with some pretty stiff competition. This is a good band. This song is a bit repetitious, but quite listenable, and it has an intensity all it's own.

Valiant dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A delicate and artful guitar solo begins this track, and that's not where the softness ends. The drums and bass gradually assert themselves in an appropriate fashion, as the song takes on a lithe and moody air, suggesting island breezes and glassy walls just outside, approaching with anticipatory danger. It combines the peace and tranquility with the impending power struggle. A very pretty track with dramatic changes.

Shrimp Cocktail dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Supercharged multidimensional music for a slurry ride... I don't know what that means exactly, but it came to mind while listening to this track. Like the Surf Trio's "Surfin' The Mill Race," this seems to have a slurry imagery about it, in lieu of the more unpredictable power of the sea. It seems bound by sides, channeled with purpose.

Last Call dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An almost lounge lizard variation on the South Seas island ethic. Is it a last call before the bar closes, or the last call to the surf? I vote the latter, since the bar wasn't open when they played. It has a fine lilting melody, and an imagery of fresh salt air.

The Road To Islay dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Urgent, intense, uneasy, and yet confident and cool. A relentless grinding dribbling of double picked notes, issued forth with considerable energy, and touches of ska lurking in the background. A strong though constant melody, with a natural bridge.

The Liquidator dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I don't think we're talking furniture here. This is ominous, intriguing, and trad based, with bits of spy and punkoidal rockabilly in the drums. It's interestingly structured, with unusual changes and melody lines, and a lot of drama.