Space...Inner & Outer

The Golden State (MuSick Recordings)

Pollo Del Mar

By David Lilly

Some say the final frontier isn't space, it's the oceans on this planet. Pollo Del Mar's music goes either way, depending on how you interpret it. A splendid and exciting experience it is when progressive rock merges with surf rock. Despite the lack of either genre on mainstream radio or music charts, both maintain huge and loyal followings worldwide. PDM is one of the bands most successful at playing that blend and The Golden State is their latest work. It's also their home state's moniker and a state of both mind and physical being depicted by Monica, the Tiki Goddess, in the cover art. That's worth the cost even without the music, so ... great package.

There's no testing the water in this environment. PDM plunges into the first number, "7 Sisters 7 Seas," with a splash of drums and cymbals that opens the gates for soaring and floating guitars. "Red Asphalt" is a rock 'n' roll showcase for the band's guitarists, who complement one another gracefully throughout the song. It boils but does not overcook, as one guitarist takes the lead while the other supports with solid, playful backup; the backup never overshadows the lead.

"Mare Amniotica" takes the album to a mellow and psychedelic place. For my ears, this is as close as any (other) band has come to Mermen territory, which is quite impressive. The inclusion of "Hall of the Mountain King" is an interesting story, especially since PDM has played it live for years. A 19th century composition by Edvard Grieg, it is one of those catchy melodies you're sure you've heard before but can't place. PDM guitarist Jono Jones is a fan of space-rock pioneers Hawkwind, who did "Hall of the Mountain Grill." Jones brought the song to the band. Though "Grill" and "King" are different musically, Hawkwind & Grieg have met here.

You're probably sick of hearing songs on radio that blend surf, reggae and polka, but take a deep breath and open your mind for "Magyara." No harm in trying and you might be glad you did. Calling all Clash fans: Take note of the instro version of "Charlie Don't Surf," in memory of Joe Strummer, that ends the audio portion of the CD. Last, but not least, there's a video taste of PDM for those of us who can't get out west to see a gig.

To hear for yourself and keep up with Pollo Del Mar (by the way, that translates to "Chicken of the Sea"), skip the surfing part and progress straight over to

, the band's dolphin-safe website. It's an in-house setup too, courtesy of guitarist Ferenc Dobronyi and fretless bassist/low-end rocket launch pad artist, Jeff Turner.