Surfng and Spying

Guitar Noir (Milan)

The Aqua Velvets

By Tim Roberts

For those nights when you feel mysterious and ready for danger on the shadowy streets of the big city,you may want to instead stay at home and listen to Guitar Noir, the third release fnom the San Francisco~based surf guitar band The Aqua Velvets. With the atmosphere the Aqua Velvets have created in this recording, you can close your eyes and pretend you're cruising Malibu lateat night in your convertible GTO, the moon high overhead, retainer money (or maybe a badge) in your pocket, heading off to the Casbah Club to question a witness. But what are those headlights suddenly rising in your rearview mirror?

The Aqua Velvets Miles Corbin, Michael hinder, and drummers Steve Cameron and Donn Spindt is one of the many bands on the West Coast improving on the surf music templates formed almost 40 years ago. Quentin Tarantino used some of the most famous ones in his soundtrack to "Pulp Fiction." The selections on Noir are along that same vein, but are far from being rehashed soundtracks from old 1960s detective/ secret agent TV shows. This is true, all-original surf music in all its reverb-and-whammy~bar glory, tinged with shadows and mystery. But you can easily imagine them to run underneath the action in such bikini-agent films as "Come Spy With Me." The titles of the songs give clues to their sounds. "Casbah Club" has a middle-eastern flavor. "A Day in the Life of a Private Bye" contains a steady, strutting rhythm you might run through your head as you walk down the hall at work. "Twilight of the Hepcats" has a finger-snapping swing reel. ll you want to know the inspiration behind the selections, you can check out the notes inside the CD booklet. All the titles are said to come from passages in a novel by Montgomery Green. Are the Velvets pulling our legs? Check your favorite bookstore to find out. The production quality is elcan, slick, halaiieed. On some selections you can hear the individual strumniing oi" each string. While tlieguitars:1re the locus ofthe entire recording, each selection gets help from on-target drunnning, or periodic, appropriate horn-section effects from a synthesizer. Guitar Noiris eool music front the shadows. Give it a spin,but try not to get too lost in it. Remember; someone out there will give you a number and take away your name.