Heroin In Tahiti - Death Surf [Boring Machines - 2012]Heroin In Tahiti's debut "Death Surf" is a vinyl release on Boring Machines. I was immediately intrigued by the concept, and it turns out to fit its curious title quite well, arguably creating a new subgenre of "death surf". Murky, ominous lo fi soundscapes are paired with twanging surf guitar riffs for a surprisingly coherent ambience that recalls classic cinema.
The album is not too well recorded, but I feel the thin, occasionally harsh low budget sound is part of the character of the music. Synths, organs and muffled samples are massed together into a grainy murk that sketches and implies a chaotic and wartorn dystopian landscape. The listener may even imagine they hear sounds within the mix that aren't actually there, something that commonly happens with distorted textures, and something I believe this album was intentionally designed for. Many tracks conjure up memories of Throbbing Gristle and early Clock DVA.
The guitar compliments these vague ambiences with a Morricone-esque romantic melodicism and flair for dramatic cinematic narrative. The tone is classic surf, heavy on twang, chorus and verb, and the performance is inspired. Despite the lack of percussion in the largely ambient backdrops, the guitar drives each piece forward with lush, harmonically advanced chords and soulful bends, in a consistent and tranced out midtempo groove.
The feeling of the album is fittingly one of blissful paradise infiltrated by insidious evil. There is something deeply eerie in the lazy washes of seventh chords. Darkness creeps beneath the sedated euphoria. There are strangely tainted moments of epic, soaring triumph as well, such as the foot stomping blues progression that ends the opener "Death Surf".
The 8 compositions on the album are strikingly different, and all melodically inspired and concise. This 41 minute album is easily listenable as a whole, and is so well sequenced it even feels like a story or concept album. I'd highly recommend this album who is open to the combination of guitar and soundscapes, and can tolerate lo fi sound. Josh Landry