Written by 4:19 am Audiophile Music

Eye of the Storm: ’80s-Modern Surf-Rock Instrumental Fusion Joys Reviewed on CD and Tidal

Mark Smotroff dreams of a flying eyeball picture disc…

If ever there was an album that should be released as a vinyl picture disc record, it is Eye Of the Storm by Chris Darrow and Max Buda. It is a  quirky fun guitar-violin-centric rock recording by two members of the legendary 1960s psychedelic world music rock group Kaleidoscope — the band that gave us the legendary guitarist David Lindley (Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, etc.). This record features amazing cover art by the legendary Rick Griffin (renown for his work in the 60s with bands like The Grateful Dead as well as his underground work in Zap Comix) which really is just ideal for a picture disc!  And, yeah, I know that picture discs don’t always sound super great but flow with me for a moment and it might make more sense.

AR-EyeOfTheStorm.225JPG.JPGIn trying to describe what this album is like, I ask you to imagine an alternate universe where pioneering jazz-rock fusion violinist Jean Luc Ponty released a record of looser, vaguely surf-flavored instrumentals, the kind of music you might hear as the soundtrack to a 1980s skateboarding documentary. It sounds cool and has all the touch stones of a fusion album but keeps everything reigned in so it might get played on mainstream radio or a jukebox. 

I had never heard Eye Of the Storm until relatively recently. I remember we stocked it on LP briefly at the record store I worked at in the early 1980s during college, but never saw it much after that. Earlier this year I found a copy of the vinyl album at a garage sale. So it was kind of a cosmic karmic record collecting moment when a new CD reissue of the album arrived in my mailbox for review consideration. This marks the first time Eye Of the Storm has been released in a digital format.

AR-DarrowBudha225.JPGEye Of the Storm is a fun pop instrumental recording that crosses multiple genres yet makes for a toe-tapping listen, especially in the car. It sounds pretty good on the home stereo too but perhaps my biggest critique of this record is that I think, in a perfect world, it could sound a lot bigger if remixed by a sympathetic producer. Not that it sounds bad, but it does sound a bit trapped in the time it was made with production aesthetic that is equal parts punk, garage, new wave and indie rock while also wearing the proud badge of DIY. I’ll put it this way : if it was cared for by a producer such as Steven Wilson, it might sound a whole lot punchier.

Given that the album clocks in at just under a half hour in length its it would have been nice if they included some bonus tracks on the CD reissue.  Just sayin’…

AR-EyeOfTheStormTidal225.jpgEye Of the Storm is a grower in terms of its appeal, a more subtle rock instrumental listen in some ways — don’t go in to this expecting guitar pyrotechnics ala Joe Satrianni or Steve Vai.  This is a pre-modern rock, post-Surf party album to share with your favorite special someone blaring loudly on the car stereo while barreling down the California coast in a convertible.  All things considered, the CD sounds good, if a bit brighter than the LP version, but that is almost to be expected. You can also find the album streaming on Tidal in CD quality (click here to jump there)

Going back to that missed opportunity to make a picture disc for the ages: if ever there was an album that screamed picture disc, Eye Of the Storm is it! It’s still not too late as an LP reissue is long overdue! 

So Dear Readers, it’s up to you to make this reissue of Eye Of the Storm a success by getting this CD. Then perhaps the producers will be able to afford to release it as a proper LP, hopefully remixed for the ages, with an obligatory picture disc option. This is one instance where a picture disc version would be fun to have in the collection.

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