Heroin In Tahiti - Death Surf (Boring Machines)

Death Surf is an intriguing example of Rome’s brooding underground scene.

Released Feb 6th, 2012 via Boring Machines / By Brendan Morgan
Heroin In Tahiti - Death Surf (Boring Machines) Mixing sluggish surf melodies with spacey Art Rock drones, this debut project from Heroin in Tahiti has caused a bit of a stir, undoubtedly effected by the way these the two seasoned musicians from east Rome have their identity a secret until its release. The blogosphere has been eager to attach labels to it such as Kroutrock to their sound, but Heroin In Tahiti seem to be at odds over outside comparisons preferring to cite Ennio Morricone’s music from the old Spaghetti Westerns as their main influence. The cool, unforgiving edge of these cult films, the rough characters and barren desert setting which lies on Heroin In Tahiti’s very doorstep, eek their way out of the EP. The whole record radiates with heat, dread, isolation and stoned paralysis.

The fact that they focus on their country’s cultural history during this age of global connection is worth noting but as always, there are some external influences going on; namely Surf Rock, an American export. It brings to mind the cinema of Tarantino and Rodriguez, who were in turn influenced by the Spaghetti Westerns and have been partly responsible for Surf Rock’s revival.

A relentlessly sinister mood sets in right from the start. The title track introduces their characteristic arrangement: minimal guitars, awash with distortion and massive reverb that drift over a shimmering pool of sound effects and unusual percussion. It’s followed by ‘Spaghetti Wasteland’, trotting solemnly along and layering up on itself to make for a rich mix. Side B however is where they really prove themselves. Carefully building tension, ‘Ex-Giants on Dope’ is like a Mexican standoff where some serious shit is about to kick off and ‘Sartana’, with its ghostly wa-wa guitar and death bell tolling underneath, rides like a wild chase into the night.

Death Surf is an engrossing and hypnotic record, visual and vibrant with a definitive style. It holds you in its grip, right up to its unsettling conclusion. But I’d say the EP still feels chained by a film context. Some tracks, soaked in dense atmosphere and without a sense of narrative, can be stagnant and weighed down. Composed during times of disgruntled social unrest that only continues to boil, Death Surf is still an intriguing example of Rome’s brooding underground scene.