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CONSIDERABLY FIURTHER BEYOND THE SEA: The Avant Garde Surf Music Compilation.
Tireless champion of the guitar instrumental, Alan Jenkins, ups the stakes here with this definitive set of recordings wrapping up 60 years of bands, electric guitars, recording studios and musical intelligence, before taking them home to heat up in his microwave. The guitar instrumental has always been the petrie dish of rock; its distillation of musical materials into their simplest forms: tune, harmony, rhythm has encouraged bands to get back to basics and squeeze a ridiculous array of sounds out of the electric guitar while still holding down a tune. Under the trades descriptions act this isn’t really surf but a broad extension of the British guitar instrumental – which was a far more complex and ambiguous animal. There are covers here, a few of them in arrangements more unlikely even than the late Juan García Esquivel might have conceived. And there are new compositions. Then the last third of the CD leaves the beaten track altogether and heads off into music pure and simple. The Melamine Division Plates’ introduction to Good Vibrations is a platinum classic. Beautifully recorded and played, with frameable – and probably actionable – sleeve-notes, this is a rare remnant of a culture in which musical ideas, good playing and a certain light-headedness still strode the grooves; when you could expect to find ideas and something new when you bought a record. More Buddah than Schopenhauer.