August 2007: Reverb Central

Reverb Central

shop-revengeMartin Cilia – Revenge Of The Surf Guitar
August 2007

Like I told Martin when I first dropped Revenge Of The Surf Guitar into my player – “Wow!

This album is solid top to bottom. It’s generally in the Atlantics mold, the legendary Australian band the Martin Cilia plays lead guitar in these days, and some songs were first cut with that stellar outfit, but it’s also very fresh and powerful in its own right. Imagine a merger of the Atlantics often stinging power, the melody sense and guitar interplay of the Bambi Molesters, the fanciful writing of Bill Epps and Dana Vincent for Splashback and the Vara-Tones, and classic American surf, and you’ll get the general drift of the perfection within. All comparisons aside, Martin Cilia has produced a truly wonderful CD with 16 wonderful tracks. He has obviously put a lot of time into arrangements, because this album very VERY well done. Highly recommended!

Picks: 1963, Surf’s Up, Reverb Beach, Under The Hood, Return Of The Surf Guitar, Surfabilly, Freak Out, Point Danger, The Worm, Black Jaguar, Flight Of The Surf Guitar, Queen Kahuna, Cronulla Point, Surfride, Riff A Go Go, Mermaid Beach


Track by Track Review

Surf (Instrumental)1963” is a lovely thirty-eight second surfy reverb guitar duet that lulls you into a perfect space to accept the coming flood of surf grooves.


Surf’s Up
Surf (Instrumental)This is a remarkably cool track that relies heavily on the interplay between the surf pattern rhythm guitar and whammified lead that ride atop superb bass and surf drums. “Surf’s Up” is a wonderful track that’s just perfect. Rhythmic, infectious, motion oriented, and thoroughly cool. You might guess from all this that I really like it! Martin first cut this song with the Atlantics.


Reverb Beach
Surf (Instrumental)The fine balance between the muted surf rhythm pattern and the fluid surf melody create magnetism that draws you in. The beat and bass lines complete this splendid picture. Optimistic, aquatic, visual, and thrilling.


Under The Hood
Spy Surf (Instrumental)Lovely Mermen-esq chords, tribal drums, surf rhythm, whammified leads, and moody bass portray a bit of a spy feeling. “Under The Hood” sparkles with a grand blend of Aussie and US surf ideas, mediated with espionage. I think this arrangement is more infectious than when Martin Cilia recorded it with the Atlantics.


Return Of The Surf Guitar
Surf (Instrumental)Return Of The Surf Guitar” sounds like it might be a merger of the Atlantics’ style, west coast surf’s arrangements, and the flair of the Baltic surfbands. Infectious, rhythmic, and rich in changes and aural quality. Excellent!


Surf (Instrumental)Surfabilly” is a wonderful romp through a delightful riff. Its energy and sparkle are splendid, and its forward momentum rather infectious. While extremely close to a merger of Splashback/Vara-Tones‘s “Over The Edge,” it’s also pretty fresh sounding.


Freak Out
Surf (Instrumental)Great tribal surf drums launch this epic stomper. The circulating riff recalls presurf rockabilly days, yet is entirely within the surf genre. Splashy and invigorating, the surf rhythm tries to hold down the flying lead jams, but cannot. If “Freakout” sounds familiar, it’s because Martin cut it with the Atlantics. Simply fun.


Point Danger
Surf (Instrumental)Perhaps the optimism in “Point Danger” is from the exuberance of the challenge that seems to call to surfers as they look at such namesake curl. I say that only because this song is not the least bit ominous as I expected from the title, but rather is a celebration of the liquid adventure. Reverb rhythm and sparkling leads.


The Worm
Surf (Instrumental)The Worm” is an utterly infectious song perfectly suited for a dawn rode down that coastal highway with the sea on your right and the perfect spot just ahead. In some ways reminiscent of the Carnations’ “Scorpion,” this song prances on great drums and a relentless progression. This is not in any way related to the quirky Buddy Merrill song of the same title.


Black Jaguar
Surf (Instrumental)Tribal in an exotic ways, exotic is a mysterious island vein, and purely surf in every other way, “Black Jaguar” employs guitars that are more than lead and rhythm as they circle around each other and intertwine until they are one. They are panned left and right, but I can imagine either being mixed center as lead with the other circling in an active panning swirl in support. Both are playing on the same basic melody idea in different ways to great effect. Wonderful.


Flight Of The Surf Guitar
Surf (Instrumental)Martin Cilia launched this song with the Atlantics, and I though it was amazing. Different in some ways here, yet no less intensely circular and infectious. “Flight Of The Surf Guitar” is just what its title implies, a flight of delightful surf guitars. Glissandos and playful melody lines abound, as does that signature Australian whammy.


Queen Kahuna
Surf (Instrumental)Queen Kahuna” has a classic surf rhythm feel and a carnival edge via keys that play the melody in some verses. Organ is a hard instrument to make work in surf because of the nature of the songs and guitar styles, which is why piano was much more common in the early days of surf. However, the keys here are simply charming and fun, and provide a great counterpoint to the guitars. Excellent!


Cronulla Point
Surf (Instrumental)Cronulla Point” is a an often crowded surf spot in Sydney South, but you would only know about the thrill of the consistent rides from this frill-laden song. The melody line celebrates, the frills laugh, the rhythm and drums rumble with the energy of the curl, and all that adds up to a high spirited visual track that’s really hard to dislike. Excellent!


Surf (Instrumental)Lovely muted chords and gentle tribal rhythm support a melody born of the Bambi Molesters‘ “Tremor” that’s a sparkling and completely delightful adventure in an easy afternoon ride on a long glassy face. The delicate balance between the circling guitars is superb.


Riff A Go Go
Surf (Instrumental)Stompin and shining with surf enthusiasm, “Riff A Go Go” is no mere riff rocker, but is a full fledge adventure in Australian surf. The rhythm is a bit spy ish, as perhaps is the melody. Lovely whammy action on the chords and great balance between guitars. Very well arranged.


Mermaid Beach
Surf (Instrumental)Mermaid Beach” floats gently with the the kind of island emotion that Fleetwood Mac‘s “Albatross” has, though this is a guitar solo. Lovely, spatial, atmospheric, and visual. I’d love to hear this in a band arrangement, because I believe it would have immense appeal.


Read the full review on the Reverb Central site