Wednesday, 8 October 2008

CD by Pico
Bombora Creative
Available at www.bombora.net.au

The name on his passport is Mark Pickering, but out in the Noosa line-up and on the stage he’s just Pico. And for a lot of surfers, he’s been the sound of the surf video for a long time. Years ago, Derek Hynd roped him into composing the soundtrack for Rip Curl’s extensive The Search series and Pico’s tunes have also found their way into Jack McCoy’s movies as well as a number of Quiksilver DVDs. Even if you haven’t deliberately sought out the movies, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard his stuff from the overhead screens when you’ve been killing time in the surf store (and who doesn’t lurk there from time to time?).

You’ll be familiar with the general sound of Morning Sun anyway. It’s the unhurried, rootsy cruise that’s been everywhere on the surf scene in recent years, a frantic-free zone that Jack Johnson, for one, has turned into a mega-mealticket. The songs are acoustic-based, mid-paced turnarounds that go for the slow burn. There’s nothing here that’s in your face – well, not straight away at least. Pico likes to ease songs into earshot, setting them up with simple guitar or piano figures to frame his breathy vocals. This isn’t about musical technique; it’s about atmosphere.

Producer D.C. (Paul Di Giacomo) has evoked some serious magic to get it all to work so well. Pulling in Lee Moloney on drums and Martin Rotsey on guitar was a pretty good start – seasoned players who don’t need to be flash to bring just the right amount of colour to each tune.

Rotsey’s chime sets up “Whole Lotta Good”, there’s the hypnotic waltz of “Holding On”, the jingle jangle country rock feel of “There She Goes” and the dusty road singalong of “Smile” (sporting a slight resemblance to G.Wayne Thomas’ “Open Up Your Heart”). The title song is given an extra lift with the picking prowess of surf guitar uber-mensch, Tim Gaze. He and Rotsey also square off on “Back’s Against The Wall”, a nine-minute rave-up that explores the kind of epic territory usually stalked by Neil Young.

There’s a touch of the sensitive new age waterman in the lyrics, to match the vulnerable sound of Pico’s voice. Lines like “You are so beautiful to me/I never thought I could feel this way” won’t be scaring Dylan in a hurry. But the delivery is heartfelt and the words sit comfortably against the soundscapes. And there’s probably more than a few young femlins happy to swoon to yet another salty romantic.

If the album amps you up, look out for the “Me & You” single. It has a bonus track – the conga-driven rocker “Don’t You Ever Wake Up” that sounds like it was made for the highway.

Morning Sun is an easy and rewarding listen. It’s a Bombora release, meaning it’s tastefully appointed and handsomely packaged. Label boss, David Minear seems to enjoy playing Noah and building his own ark, gradually rounding up all the animals in the surf music kingdom and making sure they get a decent chance to be heard. A noble cause indeed.

– Ian Cameron


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