Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hapa- Surf Madness

"Hapa," which means "half" in Hawaiian, refers to the fact that Keli'i Kaneali'i, one half of this duo, is Hawaiian, while Barry Flanagan, the composer of most of these songs and the lead guitarist, is a haole who lives in the islands and who has absorbed its culture into his bones. Two thirds of the songs are instrumentals, offering a slightly different take on surf classics. The rest is mellow music with gorgeous harmonies and creative slack key guitar arrangements. The album opens with a short bit of theme music for the Axel and Barneldo characters taken on by Flanagan and Kaneali'I to set the mood, and moves into the classic "Walk Don't Run." A few new compositions by Flanagan in the surf rock genre follow, referencing every major act of the era along the way, even enlisting the help of Don Ho for a single line of lyrics. The guitars are always slightly fuzzed and always bright sounding, following the contour runs favored in the style. An odd piece in dedication to Flanagan 's surf teacher comes along in the form of "Gregory Anthony's Tubular Symphony," making use of sitars and Brazilian friction drums in its course, but somehow bending it back into the surf aesthetic before the song is over. "Wipe Out" couldn't very well be missed among the covers, and another Flanagan piece returns to the retro stylings of the later '60s, primarily, but tosses in a bit of spaghetti western ambience with some whistles and percussion direct from a Clint Eastwood film. A Joe Satriani song makes an appearance, tied into the surf theme only loosely, from his Surfing With the Alien album, and the traditional "He'eia" gives the duo some room to stretch out in their best element. The album finishes on the second piece that couldn't be missed in an album of surf rock: the theme to "Hawaii Five-O." Here, though, it's stretched out and thoroughly laid-back, using brushes for the drums and a quiet lounge beat. While the Axel and Barneldo personas might be a bit over the top, the link between surf rock and Hawaiian music is strong enough to give Hapa a firm foundation for their abilities to shine through. All it needs is a cover of "Miserlou," and it's a perfect bit of nostalgia. Adam Greenberg

1. Axel and Barneldo Theme 2. Walk, Don't Run 3. Have Another Cookie, Larry 4. Blind 5. Gregory Anthony's Tubular Symphony 6. 24 Hours in Manhattan 7. Wipe Out 8. Nadine Won't Call Me Anymore (Clint's Back in Town...) 9. Always With Me, Always With You 10. He'eia 11. Hawaii Five-0


1 comment:

cmholm said...

A year or two back, I ran into one of the guys from Studio Kahala who had worked the recording sessions. He claimed that Barry and Keli'i were getting hassled for another album by Mountain Apple, and the guys responded by goofing on the company with Surf Madness. A couple of the tracks were "normal" compositions, lending some credence to the idea that this was a tossed together effort. Still a fun album, though.

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