Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Shark Quest - Man On Stiltsdotdotdotdot
artworkOf the two CD's from Shark Quest, this is by far my fave. Where Battle of the Loons is mathematical and calculated, Man On Stilts is often liquid and magical. Where the other seems set for black tie and croissants, this is Bermudas and rib eye. Still very sophisticated, but much more fluid, and with more unexpected instrument combinations to much greater effect. This blends a hint of surf and the soul of the Left Banke, with country air and A's in art school. Fresh, engaging, and very interesting, but you must be in a listening mood. This is hardly casual music or party backdrops. Rewarding and worth seeking out.
Picks: Chicken Strings, All Ball, Race Dragging, Sesame Hijack, Crazy Laura, Kell, Hugging Is Affecting China, Here Sparky, Clocks In The Arctic

Track by Track Review

Chicken Strings dotdotdotdot
Country Surf (Instrumental)

Rockin' poultry it isn't. Surfy twang and sophisticated polish it is. The contrast created between the banjo and the near-surf guitar is fascinating. The fluid film score quality of the track makes if visual and interesting. It reminds me a little of Cat Mother and the Allnight Newsboys' "Albion Doo-wah" LP, presented with a backtrack to a lost Bruce Brown epic. Pretty nice track, with drama and a backwoods friendliness.

All Ball dotdotdotdot
Adventurous Surf (Instrumental)

Opening with silky vibrato, "All Ball" quickly becomes a tightly metered and fluid intro maybe a little reminiscent of the illusive Buzzy Frets and his Surfabilly Orchestra. Very cool, and adventurous.

Race Dragging dotdotdotdot
Ultrasuave Classical Surf (Instrumental)

A sad bull fiddle and a gentle banjo set the stage for the entrance of a fuzz guitar crashing big chords while big drums pound and bass thumps. But wait, there's more as the two sounds merge into an amazing structure and sound sandwich. Very interesting and engaging.

Sesame Hijack dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

"Sesame Hijack" blends the bull fiddle and the delicate stringed machines with a precision drums and soft bass. Very sophisticated and sad, like a rainy view of a wasted life in some black and white indie film. Metronomic and gradual, until the almost gypsy midsection arrives, which moves from control to tribal party. Ah, yes, how cool.

Crazy Laura dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

A little wah-wah, military drums, acoustic guitar, and a sense of travel permeate "Crazy Laura." Amazing and vibrant, unsettling and calming, and very engaging. The fiddle creates a sophisticated air. Amazing.

Kell dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Moody bull fiddle, soft plucking, dim lights, and a relentless romantic mood, overshadowed by impending sadness and triumph. If you liked the Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina," this will draw you in. Excellent!

Hugging Is Affecting China dotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Not sure what the title has to do with the track. "Hugging Is Affecting China" is in the mold of the last track, with fuzz guitar added, yet is more passive and less engaging. I found myself wondering if Yes were a surf band, would they have sounded like this?

Here Sparky dotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

A measured interplay between bull fiddle and guitar, softly creating tension without offsetting the listener. By the time the banjo comes in, the drums are doing the rock thing and the structure has wormed its way into your brain waves. relentless, yet pleasant.

Clocks In The Arctic dotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Delicate drama, a chilled and measured pace, and a somewhat mathematical feel. A bit more black tie than I like, yet with the reverb and the blend of elements, I stayed with it till the end.