Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Long Boards - Gnarly Surfdotdotdotdot
artworkIf there's one phrase that prepares you for this album, it's deranged, or maybe it's compelling. If you come at Gnarly Surf with an expectation of the normal sound, it might take some time. You won't be whistling this any time soon, but I think it will garner your appreciation nonetheless. I really like much of this record, partly because it is so original, and partly because it's challenging without being elitist.
Picks: Gnarly Surf, Peyote, Bolsa Chica, Nose Ridin', Back To Hawaii, Vanishing Point, The Wave, Movin', Bloody Board, Sk8boarding Reprise, Sandwich Islands, Del Surf, XMas song

Track by Track Review


Gnarly Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Longboards drive "Gnarly Surf" through dark dissonant surfisms strained through an asylum. This is disturbed and yet compelling. Fun and unsettling too.

Peyote dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Muted rhythms a la The Ventures' go-go surf period, "Peyote" writhes with churning guitars and big fun. It strikes you right from the start, and stays there. Very rhythmic and percussive. Brilliant!

Bolsa Chica dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bolsa Chica" blends very cool exotic rhythm and a splendid surf melody and guitar. The organ can overwhelm at times, but the song remains sultry and surfy and rich. Wonderful!

Nose Ridin' dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Pure joy prances on the muted surf guitar. Great drums and slithering bass power "Nose Ridin'" along. It starts strong, and then grows on you from there. Too cool!

Sk8boarding dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Frantic drums and bass boom run beneath a disturbed guitar progression. The uneasiness of the song's structure is actually held together by the drums. island whammy and muted charm, but mostly a difficult listen.

Back To Hawaii dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Muted lead and second guitars atop a stomping drum cadence and bass line. "Back to Hawaii" may not be fluid, but it sure is compelling in its originality. I'm not sure how to compare this so that's its structure and sound are understood without listening. Suffice it to say that I ended up liking it quite a bit.

Vanishing Point dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dissonant and ominous, with a mentally tortured sound. That may sound harsh, but the way in which the disturbance that is the melody is delivered is very commanding. I didn't really notice the car sounds until mostly through the track because of its unusual structure and the intrigue it creates.

The Wave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Greta tribal drums and bass pound with the muted guitar. "The Wave" is nonstandard in its structure, suggesting something just isn't right with that wave! Tribal and dangerous!

Movin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood' classic "Movin'" is done with an interesting arrangement and aural quality. It straddles the line between reverent and irreverent as its vintage roots are juxtaposed with it's Longboards dementia. Quite nice!

Bloody Board dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a playful nod to The Astronauts, The Longboards provide great drums and bass beneath delightfully entertaining guitar lines and aural enhancements. "Bloody Board" is among the more normal surf instros here, and it certainly pleases.

Sk8boarding Reprise dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The reprise of this manic instro seems to me to be much more interesting! Perhaps it's the shortness, or it's the more surfy guitar. Anyway, I liked this a lot - all forty seconds of it.

Sandwich Islands dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not particularly island-like, "Sandwich Islands" uses strong surf guitar to paint a dangerous image while tribal drums and moody bass drive. Disturbed, yet friendly. The muted guitar just drips reverb!

Del Surf dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Greta drums and hypnotic bass drive rhythmically beneath superb whammy and dripping springs. "Del Surf" is a powerful and playful track with the energy and splash to command.

XMas song dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Utterly playful, somewhat disjointed, and fun. Imagine if Link Wray played ukulele. OK, not quite that, but all fun and no attitude.