Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Surfites Go Stellar on Escapades In Space!

The Surfites

Escapades In Space
Double Crown Records

Surf music is all about movement on a seemingly endless substrate. As a logical progression, Sweden's The Surfites take their reverb out of the confines of the waves into a more precarious environment of space on their second album Escapades In Space. It's a new concept, but the attitude of this band make the trip into a a laid back cruise much like surf music make the often unforgiving waves into a cool place to hang. Although not the surf music expert, prerecorded non instrumental parts in surf music are new to me, so the opening 4, 3, 2, 1, Fire! opener on the aptly named "Launch Pad" is an exciting introduction for surf music. What follows is a song so full of reverb to persuade one to envision floating above the earth in their space station/bachelor pad while sipping lots of bubbly. The Following "Comets" tail is a little faster and has the occasional sound of something cruising fast overhead while leaving a trail of fuzzy guitar in its wake, but the keyboard melodies are subtle and perfect. "Space Mover" is a total boss tune that trades off some simple but great tremolo with Henry Karlsson's keyboards, so although it's surf music, it borders on hanging in the martini bar; in one's jams, of course. The Surfites demonstrate a strong ability to musically describe their song titles in creative ways. "Moon Buggy" is definitely a layin' low hotrod track with a strong retro sound and the occasional guitar noise signifying the buggy throwing up clouds of Moon dust on a joyride. "Little Rocket Mill" finds the stellar tour in full swing mode with some tremolo that will bring your tiki hut into full swing should you find yourself without a space vehicle. If one needs further proof of dancing in space, look no further than the hula vibes of "Rainy Day In Space" that moves itself nicely into slight psychedelia.

"Around The Galaxy" is a strong beat track that envisions parties taking place in the exact locations of the song's name while mixing up tremolo with an near sitar sounding reverb, but the beat is boss. It's not all fun and games up there: "Danger Ahead" is a hotrod dream filled with nasty fuzz and some screams that can only be from a rough ride through 'Dead Man's Asteroid Belt' and is the loudest song on this 15+ track offerring. In making itself otherworldly, the cool but kitsch muted reverb dominance on "Space Encounter" is definitely one of the third kind. One thinks they get where The Surfites are going on this Escapade In Space, but the organ breaks and Gunnar Lindholms cool jazz tapping on "Far and Beyond" might take you back to your grandparents' mid century house, complete with the ranch inspired lamps, full bar and cool clock (I'm dreaming. We should all be so lucky), while "Marching Robots" moves along in mechanical fuzz and eerie high notes from the Fjellgren brothers. Although monotonous as the title suggests, it has a neat Twilight Zone feel.

The fun and games on Escapades In Space pick up again on "Mercurian Surf Stomp" that's so full of wet reverb and the occasional tremolo digs to bring out the most primitive of aliens ready to fly through the vacuum of space. The ending phaser shot hints at how that activity might end. "Space Coach" is maybe the closest thing to traditional surf on Escapades In Space with an equal emphasis on reverb and tremolo, but the tremolo combined with the beat have a stronger spaghetti western take that stays well grounded. The remaining tracks "Moon Made" and "Planetary Stroll" are also unique and fresh with the first having a heavier beat while the latter is what it sounds: A nice stroll puncuated by bright tremolo orbs and strumming.

Make no mistake, Escapades In Space is a surf album. The songs all clock in at under two and a half minutes and it's recorded in glorious MONO that helps to accentuate the activity and motion of the waves, only they're somewhere up there. The Surfites are spaced out and focused on their Escapades in Space while not being 'spacey.' The Surfites have succeeded in "Going where no SURF has gone before and have not only prevailed musically, but the packaging artwork and concept is second to none. As if the front album cover isn't worthy enough of cool '60s retro art, the remaining cover art is amongst the most impressive with a full color shot of a Mercury(?) rocket, a foldout of what looks like a nuclear reactor control room with a cartoon version of the band pasted in, and some beautiful vintage black and white shots of a Lunar Lander in a staging area modified with cartoon images of The Surfites, a rocket engine diagram, a great shot of a Moon Buggy on The Moon with a guitar pasted in, as well as a frontal shot of it, although the photos on the CD version are so small that one can't make out if the driver has a drum in front of him, which provides stronger motivation for Double Crown Records to release a vinyl version.

Space Mover

Escapades In Space is available both at Double Crown Records and from Get Hip Distribution

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