Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Atlantics—
Bombora


Released 1963 on CBS
The Seth Man, April 2000ce
You've never heard an instrumental band like this in your life. Known only to themselves and their loved ones as Bosco Bosanac, Jim Skiathitis, Theo Penglis and Peter Hood, this 19-year-old foursome were known throughout Australia in the early sixties as The Atlantics. They are Australia’s best-kept secret, and their prodigious output between 1963 and 1965 is staggering, considering the high quality and pulverising drive of their brilliant instrumentals. “Bombora” was their first album, recorded live in the studio but even the dry production can’t keep their precise yet spirited playing down. All 12 tracks are immediately captivating, catchy, and heavily reverbed. And the hours of patient rehearsals yielded some high-class stompers which roam freely within the confines of their ultra tight arrangements. Their second single, “Bombora” opens the album with frantic drum roll and scratch-ola guitars fed through primitive delay units, coming on like The Shadows on amphetamines, as does the aptly titled “Dark Eyes.” “Adventures In Paradise” is all fake bird calls and a gentle, highly echoed reverb phrase that undulates as though it was a bikini-ed woman’s hips and not a Fender Stratocaster making those movements. There is the goofy “The Gremlin King” with its Russian dancing "Hey!" riffs, but rendered so taut and with insistent cowbell hammering, it’s a wonder all the same. The patient bass and the killer tom rolls all back up the double lead guitars through a variety of styles: from the almost Giles, Giles & Fripp fake surf to Django B. Marvin riffs that just keep on coming. Their cover of “Greensleeves” is translated into a heartbreakingly beautiful moonlit isle melody, demanding absolute darkness and silence when it comes on. No drums at all: just gentle cymbal tapping, and you’re so glad there’s no drums breaking the mood you could almost cry...but you do anyway, because it’s poignant as hell. It is truly one of the best instrumentals ever recorded by anybody.

“Moon Man” ends the album, and points to a direction The Atlantics would explore in later recordings. Its “Twilight Zone” guitar riff introduction breaks open into the wider force-field of T-W-A-A-A-A-N-G with reverberation that hints at their later recordings like the Barrett instro-punk of “War Of The Worlds” or “Rumble And Run.” You check the date and it says 1964 and you don't believe it. Tracks such as this are the primal crossovers of the surf/psychedelic garage cusp, like The Chocolate Watchband’s “Expo 2000,” The Ventures’ “Ventures In Space” album or Davie Allan & The Arrows, circa 1967. All of which seems to make typical purists of both genres dismissive of the other, but they are genuinely linked. And although some of these tunes are 37 years old, many of them sound as fresh and alert as they always did and will.