Reverb and beach sand go hand in hand, and Swami John Reis and the Blind are here to assure you that it's a winning combo. This surf record, rather proudly and unassumingly titled Modern Surf Classics, is made out of all the usual fret-frenetic riffs, but is covered over with saxophone freakouts and tight percussion. The Beach Boys have nothing.
LP £20.99 SWA144
LP on Swami.
CD £12.99 SWA144CD
CD on Swami.
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- Modern Surf Classics by Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake
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Did John Zorn surf? I would like to think so. The waves would be rhombus shaped and he would be on his board for ten seconds at a time -- by choice. Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake have created what they consider to be a definitive collection of ‘Modern Surf Classics’, and I would like to see a music video where jazz grinder Zorn hits the beach. These tracks are made with wicked smiles and blur the lines between sinister and joyous, tailing down riffs of ominous intentions before bringing in spry piano notes, blubbering saxophone and the occasional acoustically driven surf ballad. It’s instrumental surf music, but with its killer tone, ‘Modern Surf Classics’ turns into a tale of epic proportions. I’m not sure what the tale is. But it sounds brooding and emotive, like someone walking a long dusty trail in the search of their old home. There are times when I think this record was secretly written by Cormac McCarthy.
Thanks to their tight performative skills and obsession with completing every song’s structure with repetitive, wonderfully mind-numbing choruses, Reis and his Shake manage to make ‘Modern Surf Classics’ something of an adventure, one that can go between beautiful, reflective compositions and vibed out ‘50s rock that’s all about whether or not the groove is sufficient. There’s also a track that fires out a riff that sounds pretty much identical to “20th Century Boy” but then keeps it kicking around for the whole song. Awesome. This is how surf music should be: rigid where it matters, free-wheeling everywhere else. ‘Modern Surf Classics’ is a wild ride in several sick vignettes.
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