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Merrell Fankhauser - Area 51 Suite (2CD)

Genre: Space Pop
Release Date: 4th March 2013

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST101CD
Price: £7.99
Available: In stock


Merrell Fankhauser - Area 51 Suite

Merrell Fankhauser has for the last half century been a giant in several of the strands of what the late Gram Parsons described as ‘cosmic American music’, the indigenous North American music. Merrell was one of the founding fathers of surf music in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the post-war economic expansion of California made it even more of a epicentre of the American dream that it had been during the gold rush a century or so before. It is even argued that Merrell was one of the composers of Wipe Out, one of the undoubted anthems of the genre.

In the incredibly incestuous music scene of California in the early 1960s, Merrell was also involved with the musicians who would later become Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and so successfully crossed the great divide between surf music and the nascent avant-rock of Don Van Vliet and his chums, whose warped world view did so much to propel the dance hall pop music of the ‘60s into the art rock of the ‘70s.

He also played with Ed Cassidy of Spirit and other luminaries of the psychedelic and hippy scene, and some of his own records in this particularly arcane genre are undoubted classics. Whether playing within the fairly strict limits of surf rock or producing cerebral soundscapes to dazzle and entrance the psychedelicised listener, Merrell is the undoubted maestro. He could play like a man possessed, making his guitar scream like a whirling dervish, or coax the most delightful seductive and sultry sounds from his instrument.

In later years his cable TV show The Tiki Lounge became a cult hit and he showed again and again not only that he was an inventive and clever musician, but that he was also an adept and insightful interviewer.

Then for 2013 came a new project: Area 51. This is a collection of exquisitely produced and finely played instrumentals inspired by the UFO mythos. The title track, which features a fine video by yours truly, and which nearly got me arrested for filming outside GCHQ at Morwenstow in North Devon, is inspired by the legendary Area 51 in Nevada; a (not very) secret American military installation where, it is rumoured, alien artifacts and even bodies, including the craft and occupants from the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, incident are kept. One of the most amazing things about this collection of songs is that although it is an exercise in a genre popularly thought to have had its heyday over half a century ago, it doesn’t sound dated, and is full of rich, vibrant and exciting music for the 21st century and a new millennium.

Merrell has done it again, and produced the latest exciting gem in a long and satisfying career full of them. Well done, mate; may the force be with you!        


Tracks:
1. Area 51
2. Signals From Zoran
3. Stardazed
4. Bimini Road
5. Catalina USO
6. Crash Landing
7. Aliens In The Mist
8. Shadow People
9. Cocktails In Space
10. Lost Continent Blues
11. Alien Talk
12. Calling From A Star

Disc 2
1. Area 51
2. Vitina Marcus: Interview
3. Alien Talk
4. Dr. David Jungclaus: Interview
5. Out on the Desert
6. The Little A'le'inn
7. Beyond The Rainbow
8. Calling From A Star
Click above to watch video

 



 Review: MERRELL FANKHAUSER REVIEW


 

Artist: Merrell Fankhauser
Title: Area 51 Suite
Genre: Space Pop
Release Date: 4th March 2013
Label: Gonzo Multimedia
Source Link:
It has been several years since Merrell Fankhauser released new studio recordings (he has released several compilations and DVDs over the years as well). Rockin and Surfin was a 2004 release that I recall enjoying immensely so it came as no surprise that I had a similar experience listening to the latest release Area 51 Suite. Keep in mind music fans that Fankhauser has been getting it done in the recording studio since the 60s and has overcome health issues and every other obstacle thrown in his way to continue to entertain us all. There are two versions of the release available, the CD and the CD/DVD which features music videos and interviews with people from the ET and Sci-Fi community.
This collection of tracks is referred to as space pop. A lot of it as one would suspect if you are familiar with Fankhauser’s work, is influenced by surf. The subject matter is about space and extraterrestrials but I would classify most of this recording as instrumental with wide range of influences coming together at once to form this hybrid of the referenced “space pop.”

The first and title track “Area 51” effectively creates an air of mystery and intrigue. Certainly that was the intent so mission accomplished and a great way to open the curtain to the show. “Signals From Zoran’” which is also an excellent track, takes a page out the surf-instrumental book. The following track “Stardazed” is slower bluesy like ballad that puts you in a starry eyed mood and just may have you looking up at the sky wondering who is out there watching us. “Bimini Road” which is an underwater rock formation near North Bimini Island in the Bahamas, is very appropriately a surf-blues number that takes you on an underwater adventure. Instrumental music, if it is very good, takes little time to create a picture of the track title in your mind, here again Fankhauser succeeds.
“Shadow People” is a very picturesque instrumental that brings those people in the shadows to life. The music flows along and rocks its way into your psyche making it inevitable that you start thinking about unexplained phenomena and people on this earth that we have no knowledge of or why they are here. It one of the more complex and changing tracks that takes things to another musical level for the artist. Then to switch things up yet again “Cocktails In Space” is entirely different than all the previous tracks and it includes a segment where a flute comes in giving it new age feel and texture.
When “Crash Landing” comes at you with a synthesizer depicting a spacecraft coming your way and Merrell’s guitar kicks in it forms a spy thriller surf sound that keeps you hooked throughout. This track was the one that reminded a lot of his previous surf-instrumental work. Many of the tracks begin with a spacey laser or craft landing like sound to make sure you are staying with the overall Area 51 Suite theme.
The biggest treat for old and new fans will be Fankhauser’s most prolific track “Calling From A Star.” I go back to 1999 with Merrell and that is when I first heard this amazing track. The title says it all and his voice is exceptional, backed by perfectly placed instrumentation. I don’t think he could have recorded a better track in his long and influential career. Every track offers the listener something different and even though the premise is visitors from outer space you will hear the diversity of an artist on display at every turn. Surf, space, pop, rock, blues, and country, just about every main genre, gets superb coverage on this eclectic slice of musical excellence.
This is a solid release and I have to say one of Merrell Fankhauser’s most exceptional releases in his career. He has made some great music over the years and this gives us all a reminder once again of his importance to the history of rock music and how his capabilities to entertain have not waned. His candle is still burning brightly and Area 51 Suite gives you a one way ticket to the stars. Don’t you give up hope down there; they are coming back again…
5/5 Stars
Key Tracks: Area 51, Calling From A Star, Crash Landing
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Founder MuzikReviews.com
May 11, 2013
©MuzikReviews.com
For Questions Or Comments About This Review Send An Email To info@muzikreviews.com
Tracks:
Tracks:
1. Area 51
2. Signals From Zoran
3. Stardazed 
4. Bimini Road 
5. Catalina USO 
6. Crash Landing
7. Aliens In The Mist
8. Shadow People 
9. Cocktails In Space
10. Lost Continent Blues
11. Alien Talk
12. Calling From A Star
Disc 2
 1. Area 51 
2. Vitina Marcus: Interview
3. Alien Talk
4. Dr. David Jungclaus: Interview
5. Out on the Desert
6. The Little A'le'inn 
7. Beyond The Rainbow
8. Calling From A Star
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO
Rainbow Bridge Revisited
DVD/CD - £9.99

Area 51 Suite
2CD - £9.99

Tiki Lounge Vol 1
DVD/CD - £12.99

The Best Of
2CD - £11.99

The Return To Mu
CD - £9.99

Tiki Lounge Vol 2
DVD/CD - £12.99

 Review: MERRELL FANKHAUSER AREA 51 REVIEW


 

Although Merrell Fankhauser requires no introduction, I’ll go ahead and share some of his accomplishments anyway for the newcomers reading this.

Starting life in the early sixties with the Impacts, who hailed from Southern California, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist went on to play in a number of equally celebrated bands such as Merrill and the Exiles, Fapardokly, HMS Bounty and MU. He’s also had an acclaimed solo career, and one of his most recent bands, Fankhauser-Cassidy, included the late great Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy.

Covering everything from surf rock to British Invasion styled pop to folk rock to psychedelic exploration to blues to progressive rock, Merrell has mastered each genre with remarkable insight and intuition. By splashing his own unique take across the landscape, he creates sounds that are exciting and original.

Merrell’s latest offering, “Area 51 Suite” draws inspiration from Area 51, an army base located in the Nevada desert where it is widely believed objects and possibly even entities from outer space exist and are hidden in secret chambers. A double disc selection, the project does a brilliant job capturing the mood of its subject. Shadowy contours converge with a sense of mystery and mystique, making the listener feel as if interdimensional beings are peering at them either through the windows of airships or behind the hungry shrubbery dotting the dry terrain.

Dominated by instrumentals, “Area 51 Suite” flows and flourishes with gripping gestures. Both “Crash Landing” and “Aliens In The Mist” rumble and rustle with reverb-rigged surf rock currents, while “Area 51” slithers and slides with caution and anticipation to the sparkly finish of tingly melodies and picturesque textures. Stitched of warm and solid riffs, “Signals From Zoran” melts and mushrooms into a thrilling crescendo, where “Bimini Road” and “Stardazed” favor a slower and soothing approach devised of honey-drenched blues and tropical island influences. Whiney country flavored licks, complemented by the whistling toot of a flute, steer the point home on “Cocktails In Space” and “Lost Continent Blues” mixes jazz, rock and blues into an unconventional brew of freewheeling frolic. The reggae-infested “Alien Talk” and the polished pop rock fixings of “Calling From A Star” are the two vocal tracks heard on “Area 51 Suite,” and as an additional bonus, there’s “Extra Televisual,” an entertaining film starring Merrell, friend and aliens.

Read on...

CHECK HIM OUT AT GONZO

Rainbow Bridge Revisited
DVD/CD - £9.99

Area 51 Suite
2CD - £9.99

Tiki Lounge Vol 1
DVD/CD - £12.99

The Best Of
2CD - £11.99

The Return To Mu
CD - £9.99

Tiki Lounge Vol 2
DVD/CD - £12.99

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