Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Manatees - Swamp-Thingdotdotdotdot
artworkNever afraid of invention, the Manatees move flawlessly from their amazing surf vision through attractive ugliness and barbecued feedback. It's an adventure for sure. This is a nicely mastered CD, flowing seamlessly from track to track.
Picks: Swamp Thang Prelude, Dale's Dick, Blow Hole, Beyond The Wave, Candida, Flaccid Highway, Swamp Thang, Invasion, Thilo Bode, Peace Pirate, Iguana Moon, Thunderbirds Theme, Clepsydra, Hot Daddy, Rolling To A Stop, Are Friends Electric?, Back To The Swamp

Track by Track Review


Swamp Thang Prelude dotdotdot
Zooscape (Instrumental)

This is a brief introductory piece, with ugly nut house chimps and snoring. Not meant to accompany breakfast.

Dale's Dick dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Inspired by the fire and gut-level low-E grumble of Dick Dale, this is the sort of thing he could easily have written and would play. Added to the surf power slam are howling feedback and major aggression, all delivered with stunning polish and power. "Dale's Dick" is a monster on the loose!

Blow Hole dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very cool riff, however simple, drives the low-E grumble of this menacing wave ride. A dangerous track, "Blowhole" warns of hazards near the rocks. Magnificent!

Beyond The Wave dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ah, that silky theremin and damped reverb guitar... this is liquid weirdness with real appeal. Twisted whammy, disturbed howls, and handclaps from the inmates... quite a trip. One wonders if it's alien worlds that lie just "Beyond The Wave." Structurally and aurally, it reminds me of Hawkwind's ominous howl. Entirely too cool!

Candida dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splashy poppy song with twinges of lounge and a swirling Leslie effected guitar, and a bouncy lilt. Some if the Leslie guitar whammy wompin' is downright demented. No, it's not THAT "Candida."

Flaccid Highway dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Flaccid Highway" lounges with long string bending that suggests Hawaiian tourists. Once the great surf rhythm kicks in, your suspicions are confirmed. catchy and fun, and just plain cool. The guitar tone is very rich.

Swamp Thang dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

A bluesy distorto guitar riff and funky bass and percussion backtrack lure you into a smoky club just ahead of the sounder lead guitar. Quite a departure from the rest of their songs.

Invasion dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ugly feedback and distortion drive the guitar, which plays with a sort of inverted Davie Allan sound. Dirty, yet friendly. Bass and drums syncopation gives it a robotic feel. The quiet and delicate middle is like a minuet for re-envisioning "Mathilda."

Thilo Bode dotdotdotdotdot
Disturbed Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

What a strange and delightful track! A slithery jazz intro succumbs to howling feedback and big fuzz that's just too groovy, like a cross between Shockabilly and the Amboy Dukes. The Shaft meets Nick Turner wah wah is really niftuna! A+ for inventiveness.

Peace Pirate dotdotdot
Angular Near Surf (Instrumental)

Softness in slightly disorienting anticipation of loud feedback ugliness, all hovering like ballerinas waiting for the curtain. "Peace Pirate" is disquieting excursion into a place where dissonance and ugliness merge magically. Somewhat reminiscent of Lawndale.

Iguana Moon dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

To paraphrase Donovan, dig the liquid slowness! Lumbering and delicate, liquid reverb and a deluxe Spanish underpinning, woven into a grin-inducing track that's sure to please. Very suave, with shimmering vibrato and great drums.

Thunderbirds Theme dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The "Thunderbirds Theme" is taken away from its usual Shadows arrangement into a surfable place where spies and vacations merge. Very tasteful.

Clepsydra dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shimmering grace precedes and semi-aggressive whammy enhanced rhythmic piece with a sense of an open road surfari to a secret spot. The opening hints of "A Taste Of Honey," but alas the song is entirely different. Quite cool.

Hot Daddy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The punchy chunky rhythm section runs solidly under an interesting and unique surf riff, especially in the bridge. Heavy chunk and silly surfers... a fine track for sure.

Rolling To A Stop dotdotdot
Crossing Over (Instrumental)

A brief transitional piece...

Are Friends Electric? dotdotdotdotdot
Angular Surf (Instrumental)

Theremin wackola launches a disturbing electro swirl that circles like a vulture, bring in the dark guitar lines. Gary Numan's "Are Friends Electric?" is angular and uncomfortable, yet lurid and entirely original. If your adventure hat is in the closet, get it out and prepare to fly above the brine on a robot albatross. Hypnotic like Hawkwind, and threatening like a cream puff war.

Back To The Swamp dotdotdot
Electro Tweak (Instrumental)

A wash of electro tweakery closes out the CD.