Calling From A Star
The Music of Merrell Fankhauser
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Signals From Malibu

Gonzo Multimedia HST314CD
Released: June 2015

Merrell's interest in extraterrestrial activity is well known. In 2014 he was contacted by Michael C. Luckman of the New York Extraterrestrial Reserach Center about some strange signals that had been recorded emanating from an anomaly off the coast of Malibu California ... 2000 feet below the surface!

Merrell felt these signals were communicating with him and he speculates that this 'anomaly' could be an underwater base for UFOs. It's these unidentified signals that form the basis of this release as Merrell was inspired to write a number of new tunes, two of them - Signals From Malibu and Messages From The Dome - incorporating the signals themselves.

In all there are 10 instrumentals here, clocking in at just under 37 minutes, led by Merrell's distinctive guitar work. He also plays bass, piano and keyboard on the album. His son Tim co-wrote two of the tracks - Mysto Spot and Voice Of the Sea - on which he also plays guitar. Sal Garza's violin adds an extra dimension to the sound, especially on the title track.

The sound of the sea and burbling water are the background and unifying feature of the album. As with all of Merrell's music this album has an easy laid-back positive vibe. This is Merrell in his South Cal surf guitar mode. There are no pretensions here, just good solid musicianship and mighty fine tunes.

The title track is the stand-out, there's sense of portentous grandeur about it with the guitar and violin gelling really well. Into The Tunnel is a slower, more atmospheric track with hints of Pink Floyd at times, while Point Dume features some great violin work on this more upbeat tune. Alien Space Shuttle is the joker in the pack with it's jaunty hook and alien voices. Moonlight Interlude shifts the scene to the Hawaiian islands with its lanquid feel and lap steel, then we're riding the waves with the Surfmen from Mu with its great manic little guitar break. Voice Of The Sea, written with son Tim, fits many textures into its three minutes. The final track Messages From The Dome is piano led which gives it a different feel to the rest of the album but it still fits in well, and is another atmospheric tune, almost symphonic, with some fine keening violin.

Overall Signals From Malibu is solid piece of work from Merrell which hangs together well as a complete album.


Watch the promo video with a performance of the title track Signals From Malibu:

and here's Messages From The Dome

 

 

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© Text copyright Steve Froy 2003-2015