Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Manatees - Snakin' With...dotdotdotdot
artworkThe Manatees' first cassette release was much more traditionally oriented, with grand surf instrumentals in a punchy mix with Theramin. From that platform, the Manatees have evolved an adventurous writing and arranging style that allows them to infuse many different sounds and ideas into an instrumental sound. This flexibility accomplished two things, an escape from sameness, and music that is often groundbreaking.
Picks: Coconuts (intro), Tahini, Fumble, Mendoza, Seventeen And A Half Years, The Model, Immigration, El Manatee, Oscillations, Instant Curry, Crevice, Platform, Memby's Yellow Umbrella, The Warlord, Mr. Manatee, Batman, Coconuts, Seventeen And A Half Years (dub remix)

Track by Track Review

Coconuts (intro) dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a short little ditty in a Hawaiian stylee that fades into a band intro.

Tahini dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Yikes, slithering slide against grinding rhythm guitar and tribal thunder from the bass and drums. Quite intense and infectious. This captures the fastest ride down a fifty foot drop. very cool.

Fumble dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Trade the 'F' for an 'R' and and you'll get the basic idea. No, it's not a cover, but it's a slow tribal intense monster in that vein, with marvelous throbbing vibrato guitar balanced against shiny surf guitar, pumping out a succession of notes over a tribal rhythm section. Very big, with island undulation everywhere. All I can say is, WOW!

Mendoza dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A quirky riff, like a jazz flirtation that's gotten pregnant and simplified. Some very nice moments in this catchy little number. It gets a little repetitious, yet keeps your attention. The interesting thing is the fine balance between the lead and rhythm guitar. The spacy break is very cool, with swirly theremin and echoed effects.

Seventeen And A Half Years dotdotdot
Sub Tropical (Instrumental)

Deliberate and fluid, with pleasant trumpet and seventies wah wah. The melody is amiable and the structure floaty, like post hippy sub disco not quite reggae. A liquid groove for a breezy afternoon in the tropics.

The Model dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There are several surf instro version of Kraftwerk's "Das Model" out there. None except for Die Space Hobos plays with it more. The guitar is heavily effected into a stereo swirl. In a live setting, this tweaky arrangement are mighty infectious. Grins required.

Immigration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A border tango behind a fluid and slightly mysterious melody line. This is a very cool, exotic and suave tune. The bumpin' break sets off against the slither of the main track. Makes you move, even when you wanna sit still!

El Manatee dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

The melody line here is a little middle eastern and a little Castilian. Kinda catchy, precise, and well developed, this bears multiple listenings. The midsection's psychedelic swirl is very pleasing. A little nervous at times, spacy at others, this is always commanding. Nice track.

Oscillations dotdotdot
Theramin (Instrumental)

theremin solo projections and oscillations... an instrument of madness put to good use.

Instant Curry dotdotdotdot
Space Disaster Surf (Instrumental)

"Instant Curry" has a deserted ally feel, a bit of the brine, and a relentless progression punctuated by stinging whammy. The simplicity seems to work in it's favor. After a couple of leisurely verses, the theremin kicks in and the band kicks off. The sound is smoother than Planet Seven, but no less interesting with disparate tones and swirls.

Crevice dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

No crevice dwellers are these Manatees. Adventurous surf instrumental magic, progressive like a Pollo Del Mar excursion, splashy like a Halibuts beer dance, and fluid like de-clicked dance music, this is infectious, familiar, echoed, and interesting. very cool.

Platform dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Are we talkin' stages or shoes, or maybe Mac vs. Windows. Rhythmic and mostly dry, this warns of black-and-whites coming your way while you do the slow pirouette of dangerous dancing. maybe that answers the question. Chunky and choppy, and kinda spooky.

Memby's Yellow Umbrella dotdotdotdot
Tropical Surf (Instrumental)

A little Brazilian, a little now, a little wow... infectious and different. It reminds me a little of the Swamis' "Ayo" Quite a cool number.

The Warlord dotdotdot
Garage Psych (Instrumental)

Dissonant howling siren-like noise pre-eminates a fuzzy pompous thunder muffin of courtly intercourse. If you're familiar with "The Epic" (People), there's a passage much like this. It has a sixties garage psych sound about it.

Mr. Manatee dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is very similar Brian Lord and the Midnighters' "Not Another One." Warpy string bending weirdness, like Henry Mancini on the wrong bus, or maybe the Reventlos less their metal tendencies. There's a definite dementia to the lead guitar. The melody is mysterious and very effective. Uncomfortable string bending and a catchy melody line over excellent drums make this is an excellent track.

Batman dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Neil Hefty's TV theme presented in a post modern carnival arrangement. It's the theremin that saves it.

Coconuts dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The opening theme, played with more surf vibrato and eerie whine, accompanied with ukulele and a distant weirdness. Entropy takes its toll on every instrument except the guitar, which finally succumbs in the end. Strange, but cool in a quirky way.

Seventeen And A Half Years (dub remix) dotdotdotdot
Dub (Instrumental)

take the subtle Jamaican trend in the straight version, pump up the bass and dub the mix, and viola! This is quite nice, maybe even better this way.