Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Sandblasters - Cactus Stingraydotdotdotdot
artworkAfter several years of development, Mark Stultz' band the Sandblasters has delivered a very solid CD of crunchy Spanish influenced western visionary surf and twang. The thing that struck me about this disc is the quality of the performance. It is not just solid, but Mark doesn't need to rely on volume of speed. Much of the material is mid tempo, yet it's powerful and magnetic. His bandmates Spencer Clarke - drums, and Drew Shuller - bass provide a crisp foundation. Much like Mark's work here, it is conspicuous in it's most appropriate and well defined support role, instead of obviated by the players egos. There is a definite sense of ensemble here. Most of the songs are longer, some are quite dramatic, all are very artful. Solid CD.
Picks: Quick Sand, Cactus Stingray, Flight P-51, Hungarian Hunch Dance, Submersionary, Big Sky, Brutal Surfers, Bonesaw, The Duel, Snake Shake, Board Breaker, Toothless Cannibal, El Cucumbre, Raygun Smasher, Estrellas

Track by Track Review

Quick Sand dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Solid drivin' surf tone and a solid beat drag this rhythmic and moody track. It has a lot of cow surf and Texas twang. It's not very melodic, but it powers its way along.

Cactus Stingray dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendid track, with a cool riff, and solid sound. It's slightly spy, slightly southwestern, and totally enthusiastic. "Cactus Stingray" is optimistically gloomy, and it worms its way into your soul. I found myself coming back again and again.

Flight P-51 dotdotdotdot
War Surf (Instrumental)

This fine tune is both ominous and watery. "Flight P-51" sports whammy and surf twang, and a rhythmic sense of foreboding. It uses damped rhythm and big chord Link Wray chords, but more surf than that might imply. Way cool!

Hungarian Hunch Dance dotdotdotdot
Hungarian Cow Surf (Instrumental)

Whoa! This is glorious! It blends the Hungarian patterns and rhythms with southwest twang and drama. It's spooky and infectious. The cow surf beat adds yet another dimension to this already marvelous track.

Submersionary dotdotdotdot
Desert Surf (Instrumental)

Slow ringing tones lull you into this picturesque track. It evokes images of a calm lagoon, schools of brightly colored tropical fish, and the desert at sunset. very pretty track. Not romantic, just really nice.

Big Sky dotdotdotdot
Spaghetti Western Surf (Instrumental)

The rolling beat and big chords work well to create a spaghetti western scene, with unshaven long riders on pintos trotting across the big screen. Great guitar tone, great rhythm, great beat, solid bottom end.

Brutal Surfers dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like the title says, pummelicious wave shredders, drowning gremmies, and shortboard cutbacks, plus some pretty cool psychedelic wah wah. Dramatic, powerful, and mean.

Bonesaw dotdotdotdot
Bone Crunching (Instrumental)

Great title! This sports different guitar tones, more distorted and evil. It moves at a lumbering pace through the femur, while feedback and double picked danger lurk in the shadows. Slow, mean, and very dramatic, yet with a sly grin just below the surface. Cool track.

The Duel dotdotdotdot
Spaghetti Western Surf (Instrumental)

Big guitar drama, danger in the streets, spys in the allies, and an ambush awaiting you when you least expect it. Slow, big chord power, and a delicate melody line. Very dangerous. That's before it drops into the break where we find a faster more surfy western thing with full round tone and a nifty riff.

Snake Shake dotdotdotdot
Vibrato Surf (Instrumental)

Throbbing vibrato, mid tempo twisted shimmer, and a dandy little riff. There's an air of weird science and slithering thoughts. The hand claps are cool, and the drums are quite complimentary to the main theme. Surf as art.

Board Breaker dotdotdotdot
Surf Drum (Instrumental)

Unusual short delay on the snare, crunchy guitar chords and bass notes, and a military feel... sorta a drum solo, punctuated by just enough guitar and bass to keep it afloat. The drum work is quite good. More than that, it's unusual for a solo, less showoff puttering than many others.

Toothless Cannibal dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great title! Images of being gummed to death. An ominous riff oriented dramatic structure with very inventive arranging make this a fine art surf piece. Is this the dawn of a new sub genre? Nice track.

El Cucumbre dotdotdotdot
Spanish Surf (Instrumental)

Spanish chords, cantina smells, a señiorita in a black lace dress with a red rose in her teeth, and Zorro lurking in the shadows. This is a very well developed and beautiful track. It's full of imagery, and holds you right to the end.

Raygun Smasher dotdotdotdot
Spanish Surf (Instrumental)

Spanish flair and dramatic lurking danger are found within this eloquent track. It uses some familiar riffs, dramatic changes, stylized visions, and intellectual structures. A nice tune, assembled like something from an artier period. Very good listening.

Estrellas dotdotdotdot
Acoustic Guitar (Instrumental)

Delicate solo acoustic guitar, a pleasant sunny afternoon Mexican verandah, and fine playing.