Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Space Agency - Galactic Guitarsdotdotdotdot
artworkSimon Jones' very strange and original approach to surf and space and psych have long fascinated me. There's nothing 'normal' about how The Space Agency goes about writing, recording, arranging, or mixing. From his days with Vibrasonic though solo surf guitar excursions to The Space Agency, I've just always liked where his unconventional ideas have taken his music.

This release is primarily a best of collection to satisfy the many inquires for back catalog until a new album is ready. My particular faves here are "East Side Vibrations," "Hawaiian Surf Ride," and "Surfers' Guitar."
Picks: Action A Go Go, Catch The Spy, You Make Me Nervous, Headless Hipster, Kaminari, East Side Vibrations, Clandestine , Hawaiian Surf Ride, Galactic Guitars, Tube Caddy, Flashback Guitar, Butler's Lemon, High Tension, Minnie's Theme, Yellow Pearl, Yosakoi Bushi, Shake A Go-Go, Kaleidoscope, Paradise A Go-Go, Sakura No Ame, Surfers' Guitar

Track by Track Review


Action A Go Go dotdotdot
Surfadelic (Instrumental)

Fuzz, surf, and an undulating beat support a fine melody in this entertaining track. This is a pretty fun track with good guitar interplay and arranging. "Action A Go Go" suggests The Ventures in some ways, but is also very much The Space Agency.

Catch The Spy dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

The second guitar is muted surf reverb deluxe with reverb crashes, while the lead throbs with with rapidly pulsing vibrato. "Catch The Spy"is an adventure in strangeness and surf delight. ON the dark side, but more demented than evil. Very psycho-acoustic.

You Make Me Nervous dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Swirly psychedelic surf in the tradition of Vibrasonic, though perhaps more playful. "You Make Me Nervous" is a wash of sounds and reverb in a form that will make you nervous. Very cool!

Headless Hipster dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Structured a bit like the Ventures' "He Never Came Back," this song features dribbling glissandos, a space-oriented melody line, and percussive rhythm guitar. Engaging and eerie.

Kaminari dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

"Kaminari" is almost tormented in its strangeness, yet remains attractive, like a psycho-scene you can't look away from. Extreme whammy is very psychedelic in its application. There are a few chord progressions from "Walk Don't Run," which only serve to further disturb your sleep. Yikes, this is cool!

East Side Vibrations dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

This is a stunningly cool track. Long sustained feedback notes, great surf reverb, sinewy bass lines, and a sensual rhythm meld into an exotic piece that incorporates surf and psych and Asian themes. Simon Jones' unique arranging and writing style have once again created a surf instro with imagination and the lure of a siren's song. Utterly enthralling.

Clandestine dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Haunted tremolo and graveyard spookiness, along with a bit of detective mystery and space weirdness permeate "Clandestine ." Slow, strange, and maybe like a psychedelicized Ventures In Space outtake. Pretty weird in a good way!

Hawaiian Surf Ride dotdotdotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

"Hawaiian Surf Ride" is one of my favorite Space Agency instrumentals. It's gritty edge, deluxe glissando charm, and warm melody are a perfect vehicle for the psychedelic sounds and diversions. It oozes surf and daydream danger. Simply superb! One of a couple of mixes - both of which rule!

Galactic Guitars dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Rising howls and disturbed bass with eerie, heavily echoed aural meandering. "Galactic Guitars" is very spacy in the early sixties way that term applies, but is also psychedelicized and synapse challenging. It's much more of an aural soundscape than a song.

Tube Caddy dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Very cool damped rhythms ride a heavy surf chunk beneath a fine melody line that's sometimes vibratoed, sometimes not. This is one fine instro with a disturbed and attractive sound. The melody is fine, and the arrangement intriguing and disquieting at the same time. Awesome!

Flashback Guitar dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Vibrato throb, extreme high frequency fuzz, bumping bass, wonderfully played drums... and of course plenty of psych and surf blended as only the Space Agency can. The lead sometimes pans across the monitors, extending the impact into even more disturbing territory.

Cyclone dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Previously surfed up by Archie and the V-2's, "Karelia" is much prettier and softer here. Fluid, but for the retirement porch.

Butler's Lemon dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Butler's Lemon" is playful and fun, with guitars cycling around each other and distant drums. It's hard not to feel the grins.

High Tension dotdotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Softish, but fuzzy and dangerous. "High Tension" is moody and perhaps more like mid sixties go-g- riff rockers structurally, but with a stronger melody line. Very cool!

Minnie's Theme dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and moody, with blue imagery and tremolo shimmer. "Minnie's Theme" moves in a warm molasses manner while never letting go of the darkness of bent notes and tremolo. Quite cool!

Yellow Pearl dotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Perhaps more traditionally Japanese than others here, "Yellow Pearl" employs a damped-dry guitar and dramatically industrial percussion to give the impression of a traditional play. Its percussive nature gives it a mechanical feel, which adds to the sense of theater.

Yosakoi Bushi dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

This is a stunningly cool track with serious Oriental roots and psychedelic production. Many delicate elements combine to create an original reinvention of eleki. Heavy echo and "Church Key" dipped notes, and a classically Japanese melody line. "Yosakoi Bushi" presents a very interesting blend of surf and eleki and tradition.

Shake A Go-Go dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

The haunting sound of a classically styled eastern European sounding melody runs above a rich surf rhythm. Sometimes deliberate, sometimes fluid, with the feel of a Ventures track filtered through real reverb.

Kaleidoscope dotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

A brilliant melody with a bit of an Oriental flavor is plucked with extreme pulsing vibrato that gives it an almost calliope sound. A fuzz guitar adds to the mix to create an eerie and relentless psychedelic warble.

Paradise A Go-Go dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Active panoramics circulate the guitar across your sound space to create a swirl of brain-warped beauty. "Paradise A Go-Go" is a fine piece of writing, and when strained through the mental floss of psych strangeness, it erupts into a journey with undefined boundaries and no particular destination. Let it take you where it will.

Sakura No Ame dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

"Sakura No Ame" is a splendid track with a great melody and fine blend of Japanese and Ventures sounds, like eleki with a hangover. Wonderfully inventive and rich.

Surfers' Guitar dotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

A reverbed shuffling blues intro leads to shimmering vibrato melody line that's spooky and pretty. "Surfers Guitar" is moody and surfy, and features a couple of really smooth glissandos. A fine song.