Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Tsunami Experiment - Version 1.5 RC2dotdotdot
artworkFor me, this was a frustrating release to review. There are some very good songs with excellent melodies and very limiting amateur mixdowns. There are songs that just want to be Man or Astro-MAN, but that's already been done. Some good ideas, some not. there's not a track here that would not benefit from much more sympathetic production, particularly with respect to how drums are recorded, mixed, and used, how lead guitar lays back too far, how keys sometimes overwhelm the song, and in the way the effects are almost always way to prominent, making them little more than gimmicks. Maybe the band and label like the production, but I found it to be very problematic and not complimentary to music and performances that I think deserve a much better presentation. So, I think this could have been a four-star album, but isn't.
Picks: Bach On The Beach, Wormhole Wipeout, Level 10, Electronica, The Wave Machine, Dick Tracy, Run Don't Walk!, Sling Shot, The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow, Big Ugly Part 2, Beyond Earth

Track by Track Review

Bach On The Beach dotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

"Bach On The Beach" is a spy-ish number with overbearing drums and inadequate presence on the lead guitar, which is too bad, because it's an interesting song with a moody image and emotional content that could well connect with you.

Wormhole Wipeout dotdotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

"Wormhole Wipeout" is a somewhat moody number with a slightly sad image and sense of separation. It's a really cool song, well written and arranged. I like this song a lot, and it seems well suited to the arrangement. Very cool. It's downside is low-res artificial sounding reverb used in the mix, which is intended to give the track depth in places, but instead it creates a fake sound. Coulda been a five star track.

Level 10 dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

"Level 10" is kinda mono, except for too-harsh panning on the toms and the panned guitars in the break. It's dark and dangerous, but also engaging in an emotional connection way.

Electronica dotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

The annoying electronic noise predicted by the title sounds more like a jack hammer than electronica. Under this overbearing hash is a cool song. I'm a fan of creative juxtaposition, as you know from my love of Vegomatic and others, but this track just doesn't work for me.

The Wave Machine dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

A narrative line from Endless Summer about the waves looking like they are made by a machine brings on a blend of disparate sounds and styles, with superb surf guitar and melody and military precision drums juxtaposed against weird drum processing and an ambient was of reverb. It does grow on my, and the song beneath the trickery is very cool.

Dick Tracy dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

This is a solid rendering of the Ventures' "Dick Tracy" with cheesy organ and tweaky spy electronics. It's part surf, part machine. Odd levels between lead guitar and drums and excellent rhythm patterns. It took some getting used to, but I ended up liking this track.

Run Don't Walk! dotdotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

Well now, this is cool. Very surfy rhythm tracks, big chord drama, and a pretty well balanced chemistry. A little too much drums, but overall, I found "Run Don't Walk!" to be a well thought out and enjoyable track. This is perhaps the most traditionally surfy track on the album.

Sling Shot dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

Deep Duane Eddy-ish guitar and surf chords bring on a Spiderman-inspired melody line. Dark and brooding, "Sling Shot." The destruction of noise in the middle is a shock, but had it been a little lower in the mix and faded out instead of just ended, it would have delivered an ambient swing that would have been powerful. I think there's a lot of potential here, but much more professional production is needed.

The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

This is a fairly straight forward not quite fifties riffer meets surf with over bearing keys. Great guitar is buried in the mix, and the organ disrupts the flow like an airplane overhead during a recital. Great potential, bad production.

Big Ugly Part 2 dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

There's a bit of a spy edge here. The two guitars trade off, and the rhythm and tom toms are cool. The moodiness of the lead guitar is exceptional in the break. This pretty straight forward surf instro has a lot of potential.

Beyond Earth dotdotdot
Surf Electronica (Instrumental)

trying hard to be a movie in much the same way Man or Astro-MAN lost my interest, "Beyond Earth" doesn't seem to go anywhere. If not for the samples from The Day The Earth Stood Still and the cool drum work, as well as the mid section, this would leave little lasting impression.