Aug 30 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Voodoo Organist

The Voodoo Organist
Official Site
Organ Voodoo, Dionysus Records 2015


Ever since the overstuffed first installment of the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari back in 2010, I’ve always made a conscious effort to keep my reviews limited to two exotica albums and two surf albums per year. But when Dionysus Records told me about this album, I knew I had to make an exception. How can anyone hear the Voodoo Organist’s previous work and not be immediately intrigued about how he’ll handle an exotica album?

Scott Wexton got his start playing music at age ten. That’s when he started playing the organ at church. Flash forward to the 90’s, where his musical duo with Christopher Gwizdala, Tribe, gained new members and became known as Batterie:Acid. Even when they disbanded in 1995, he couldn’t stay out of the music biz and soon found himself briefly performing with Today Is the Day. After a few years of “regular” work, a near death experience in 2001 made him realize he had to live his dream. The following year saw him debut as the Voodoo Organist and the rest is history. When it comes to musical influences, he has everything but the kitchen sink. It would be easier to list what few musical genres he doesn’t draw from!

The mellow “Mojave Midnight Moonlight” is a delightful mix of vibraphone and other percussion, along with some theremin work thrown in for good measure. I love the bongo work in this, along with the organ work. “Dry Martinis and Wet Bikinis” is a swinging and jazzy number which would be right at home in an old school spy movie. The snapping fingers, light snare drum strikes and sneaky vibe work mesh well with the organ. Guiros and an unearthly feel show up for “The Chow Chow Cha-Cha” while vibes get to show off in the peppy “Bombay Beach Bondage Boogaloo.” “Rattlesnake Rhumba” is one of my favorites and one listen will make you understand why. Its classic exotica feel is built around bongos percussion, which go nicely with the returning theremin and organ. The very fast and lively “Violent Pillage” knocked me for a loop. You simply have to hear this cleverly named track in order to appreciate it.

“Whiskey Tango Fox” certainly lives up the to “tango” part of its name. There’s plenty of musical variations to help keep this interesting. But even if there weren’t, it would still be a great listen. “It’s Smokey” is another song with a “spy” feel which instantly transports the listener to a smokey bar thanks to its soft and light mix of cymbals and vibe work. The fast and fun “Stomp That Bug” offers plenty of organ (of course) and drums while “Steely Tiki/Prog Grog” uses guiros and vibes masterfully. “Detroit It” musically melds drums, theremin work and maracas. It also flows nicely into the pleasant percussion of “Desert Dream Scene.” Just hearing it lets you know the album is at its end, but it isn’t mournful by any stretch of the imagination.

The Voodoo Organist has always described his style as “something like the house band in Satan’s Tiki Lounge” and that’s never been more true with this album. Have you ever heard the expression “lost in translation?” That’s how I feel about how my review handles this release. I know I’ve made similar statements about how select tracks from this year’s Freaky Tiki Surf-ari must be heard to be truly appreciated before. But my saying that has never been more true when referring to this particular album. It’s a unique musical mix unlike anything you’ve ever heard before and you need to buy it now!

Special thanks to Dionysus Records for the review copy!

Aug 28 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6’+ Episode 154 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Grab your Zombie and head down to Trader Sic Vic’s because it’s time for the annual FREAKY TIKI SURF-ARI! We get tropical and exotical with a variety of surf, exotica and creeptastical music to put the sting in your Scorpion Bowl! With music from THE LEFT ARM OF BUDDHA, ROBERT DRASNIN, THE VULCANOS and more! Monstermatt Patterson tries to go surfing with a Tikiman around his neck and he ends up wiping out into another MONSTERMATT MINUTE!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

Aug 26 2015

How To Make Cheap Foam Organs

I noticed I keep discussing tutorial videos from Stiltbeast Studios in December, which might give the impression he only does spooky Christmas props. This is not the case at all and I want to focus on one of his more traditional tutorials. If you have access to chunks of foam and fake blood, then you can make some realistic fake organs following the directions in the following video:

This tutorial could come in handy if you don’t have any fake blood:

Be sure to check out his other videos!

Aug 24 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Vulcanos

The Vulcanos
Official Facebook
Meet The Vulcanos, Scatter Records 2013


Hailing from Argentina (Buenos Aires, to be specific), the self-described “mod-surf-beat-garage” band the Vulcanos have a particularly interesting history. Formed from members of the defunct surf groups Los Vengadores, Los Transmisores and MODelo ´63, the band officially started in 2006. I say “officially” since two bands featuring some of the members performed together in 2002. With most of the information about the band not being available in English, that’s all I can say with 100% certainty. Their Facebook page gives the following lineup:

Marcelo: Guitar
Damian: Guitar and ukulele
Paul: Bass guitar
Mariano: Drums

But other sources give the following:

Fioro: Lead guitar and theremin
Vulcano D.: Rhythmic guitar and ukelele
Paul Vulcano: Bass
Juan Solo: Drums and percussion

I eventually had to gave up on using Google’s translation feature to help me due to poor results. I was tempted to give up, but the siren song of their great music and the awesome cover art by the famed Dr. Alderete kept pulling me back. Some names are clearly stage names but others make it unclear as to whether or not some members have left and been replaced. The second lineup is definitely the original and are the ones performing on the subject of today’s review, Meet The Vulcanos.

The somewhat laid back guitars and soft background percussion of “El super agente secreto” (“The super secret agent”) make for a great time. It’s like a driving scene in a spy movie that’s meant to show off the shooting location. “El rapto” is louder and more energetic than the previous track. Given how its name means “abduction,” this explains the somewhat sneaking, lurking tone to the guitars. “Te quiero” (“I love you”) offers soft and lightly sweet peppy guitar pickins’ while “Sheena is a Surf Rocker” is a surf take on a Ramones classic. It’s very pleasant and faithful, right down to the “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” “Bruce Wayne Goes To California” is one of my favorites thanks to its medium (in both volume and speed) guitars with a touch of mystery…at first. Soon it really picks up and gets going, all while backed by steady percussion. The sounds of waves and great guitar work carry us through “Hawaiian Breeze,” which continue into “Reina del Mar” (“Queen of the sea”). Its use of an organ is a nice surprise and the overall effect is what would happen if a surf track was composed for The Adventures of Pete & Pete. You had better believe that’s a compliment!

“Curva de la Muerte” (“Death curve”) really picks up with some interesting variations in guitar work. The same goes for “Swamp Surf,” which only seems mellow when compared to the last track. It’s another another personal favorite of mine. “El asunto del agente c.i.p.o.l.” can be translated as “The issue of the u.n.c.l.e. agent,” but I think the most accurate translation is “The Issue of the man from u.n.c.l.e.” given how said spy series was known as “El Agent de C.I.P.O.L.” in Spanish-speaking markets. It’s fast-paced and somewhat jaunty while also including a sample from the show for added flavor. The surprisingly low key opening of “Bossanoville” carries through the entire soothing track. I love the cymbals in this. “Shockwave” starts off with some extra slow and soft reverb, but boy does it pick up! Our old friend the organ returns and a theremin also joins in! “Vulcanos Party” features cheers and the occasional breaking glass mixed in with some Vulcanos guitar greatness. It’s a party you’ll want to attend for sure. Drums really get to show their stuff in “Go!” That said, the guitars are no slouches either. Some classic surf touches and perfect use of a scratchy record make this a pleasant goodbye.

The Vulcanos’ sound is relatively quieter than most surf groups out there, which I think is a refreshing change of pace. It’s so great to finally have surf music which you can just relax to rather than the usual kind which bombards you with the urge to move. You can easily dance to it, but never feel forced to. It’s never boring, but how could a band whose influences include exotica, science fiction, spy stuff, etc. ever be anything but interesting? So if you are not intimidated by something that’s a little different, seek out the Vulcanos. Trust me on this, you will not regret it!

Special thanks to Scatter Records for use of the image!

Aug 21 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Space Fezcapade

Ding Dong Devils
Official Facebook
Space Fezcapade, Tiki Tunes Records 2014


It has been a year since I had last covered the Ding Dong Devils here and the outer space album promised in that last review is now a reality. Hardcore exotica fans will recognize the name and cover art of Space Fezcapade as being a direct reference to Les Baxter’s Space Escapade. But the theme goes far beyond a homage to a classic album. As they note on their official CD Baby page, they draw an interesting connection between cargo cults of the South Pacific, Erich von Däniken’ ancient astronauts claims and 60’s Robinson Crusoe adaptations. With this in mind, let’s jump right into the album itself.

In “Ku Vs. the Space Monster,” a countdown leads to spooky surf track about the Hawaiian god of war battling a creature from beyond the stars. The somewhat militaristic drum beats mesh nicely with the guitar work and given the song an appropriately 60’s monster movie feel. It’s somewhat surprising a movie like this doesn’t actually exist. Japanese tokusatsu was incredibly popular in Hawaii during the 70’s, the same decade with saw a tokusatsu-inspired movie made in Hong Kong called War God which pitted the Chinese god of war against giant alien invaders. Getting back to the album, “Greetings from Crab Nebula Cocktails” is a ukelele-twinged tale of a space bar with strong cocktails and alien clientele with plenty of guiros. “Theme From ‘Mohawk Over the Moon'” has a catchy percussion beat and 60’s organ work and “Voodoo Man” offers old school surfy rock ‘n roll. “Uranian Jerk” shares much of its musical DNA with the previous track, albeit in a heavier and harder way. “The Area 151 Swizzle” is an organ rock-backed recipe for a fictional variant of the 151 Swizzle, which you are instructed not to operate machinery or UFOs after drinking. I love all the alien references and the chorus is a great touch. The low key exotica opening of “Blame It On the Croatoans” gives way to guitars and lyrics about a race of aliens who prepare a rather…unique specialty drink. I seem to detect a 70’s influence, which also appears on other tracks in the album.

“Can You Dance to It On Mars?” features great piano and guitars work while the vocals tell of all the ways people can dance. I love the instrumental interlude. Fast guitars and faster drums drive the surf track “Danger Island,” which is inspired by the recurring segment from the Banana Splits Adventure Hour. serial of the same name. “King Kong” is a surprise cover of an oldie from Tarantula Ghoul and Her Gravediggers! There’s great bouncy guitar work with an occasional dash of cymbals (along with a monkey call). Soft drums and cymbals carry us through an awesome instrumental track in “Marooned On Space Atoll 13.” It has a nice and spacy feel which flows into the next track. Said track, “The Mai Kai,” is musical tribute to a Florida tiki joint. It sure sold me on visiting if I’m ever in the area and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you. “Tiki Kon” is an amazing outer space jam of guitars and organ. It gets goofy at times, but in a good way. The opening of “Twistin’ Spaceman of Rapa Nui” introduces us to concept of ancient aliens building artifacts like the Moai of Easter Island heads, which launches us into reverby ukelele and guitar goodness with lots of sci-fi woo noises. “Wild Man of Borneo (For Rory)” is lightly rockin’ little ditty named for an old type of sideshow attraction. Thanks getting them to include such a catchy song Rory! The wacky opening organ work of “Hot Pink Astro Teddy” leads to a humorous back and forth between two aliens at a bar. This simply must be heard to be appreciated.

The Ding Dong Devils have hit it out of the park once again. There’s not a single dud or filler track on the album and listeners are sure to play it over and over again. While their first two CDs were packaged in standard jewel cases, this one comes in a three panel digipack featuring artwork on the back by El Gato Gomez. Since I don’t have much else to say about the album, I thought I would share a little discovery with you. It turns out both “Theme From ‘Mohawk Over the Moon'” from this album and “Theme From ‘Belly Dancers of Bali-Bali'” from their debut album are inspired by fictitious films from Gilligan’s Island! I’m guessing the next homage will either be “The Rain Dancers of Rango-Rango” or “Dracula’s Women.”

Special thanks to the Ding Dong Devils for the review copy!

Aug 18 2015

Serie B

portada_final+_cementerio I randomly came across this mexican horror punk band while browsing the internet for something new to listen to. I came across Serie B. Their bio stated that their major influences were Misfits,Balzac and The Ramones. 3 of my favorite bands.

After listening to a few tracks online, I contacted Serie B and purchased their 2012 CD, ” Al Final Del Cemeterio”. Wich I believe translates to , The End of the Cemetery. But don’t quote me. They sent me the CD as well as 2 kick ass posters, a sticker and a Serie B guitar pick.

IMG_20150818_173657 I quickly put the album on my mp3 player ( I know. I’m SO out dated) and have listened to the 10 tracks on here more than a few times.

Serie B wears their influences on their sleeves. You can hear the Balzac type of song structure in songs like “Visiones” ( a highlight of this album) and “Al Final Del Cemeterio”.

Serie B sing in spanish. So I have no idea what they are saying. But I don’t know what Balzac is saying 1/2 the time either, but that doesn’t stop me from loving them or from really enjoying this album. You can hear a Misfits style chorus in “Songre en la Pared”. And  there is  Ramones style downnstrokes all over this album. But not on every song. Wich is nice change of pace from most bands that do this kinda music.

Ultimately, I think that Serie B have something special going on sound wise. There is some excellent guitar work in some of these songs. And I’d love to hear them focus on that stuff and the things going on in “Visiones”. I hope they get more popular and put out another full length soon. In the mean time, I highly recommend you seek this out.


Start here:

Aug 17 2015

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina

STK657369-600x922Archie comics brings us another title in their horror themed more mature series of comics with Chilling Tales of Sabrina. Like “After Life With Archie”, Sabrina is told in a serious dramatic tone with horror elements abound.
The issues have been by monthly and they are up to issue 4. Variant covers have included a take on the Creepshow movie poster and a take on the original Carrie film poster. Thus showing the makers of this books love of horror.
Inside,we are taken on a trip through dark witchcraft as we follow Sabrina at a pivotal point in her life. I won’t give too much away about the plot, because I think everyone should get and read this. But definitely do yourself a favor and pick this up. The artwork is beautiful and reminiscent of 70’s horror comics. This is an A+ book in my humble opinion.

Aug 17 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Turbosonics

The Turbosonics
Official Site
Live At Howlers – Pittsburgh, 2010, Self-release 2011
The Turbosonics, Self-release 2013

The story of the Turbosonics begins in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh in 2008 to be specific. That’s when drummer Timmy Klatte placed an ad on Craigslist in order to make his dream of playing in a surf band come true. Jason Truckenbrod answered and became the lead guitarist. He later encouraged his friend Jake Ortego to sign on. Originally billing themselves as “The Surf Zombies,” the change changed their name after discovering there was already a group using the name. As the Turbosonics they played numerous gigs and generously issued several recordings from said gigs as either free or “Name Your Price” downloads on Bandcamp. Keith Caldwell replaced Ortego as the bassist along the way and can be heard playing on the band’s 2012 debut CD. In order to get a full appreciation of their work, I’ll be reviewing albums from both lineups.


Recorded at the popular local dive bar, the original Turbosonics’ set features covers of many surf classic and one of their originals. Things kick off with their take on the Surfaris’ fast and bouncy “Point Panic.” You know you’re in for a good time when the opening track rules this much. I’ll be getting to “Dragstrip” later in this article. Let’s just say this version is great and has even higher energy than the original! Next comes an awesomely heavy take on two Dick Dale favorites, “Miserlou/Maleguena.” “Scalped” keeps the Dick Dale party going with a truly fantastic performance. Next comes a slow (but in a good way) surf cover of a decidedly non-surf track from The Reverend Horton Heat, “Marijuana.” After that guitar workout, the Turbosonics’ take on Link Wray’s “Rumble” closes things out. It’s fairly soft, but still retains all its power. It’s the perfect way to close to the show (and to the album). Just one listen will confirm these versions all stand side by side with the originals in terms of quality. It’s a free download, so you have no excuse for not checking this out for yourself.


Their self titled “official” debut features Keith Caldwell on bass and I’m happy to report he’s able to seamlessly fit into the band while still bringing his own style to the table. Ortego still has a hand in this album, but that will have to wait until later. Slow reverb opens both the album and “Clambake,” whose cymbal buildup leads to medium paced surf goodness. This track also features an awesome melding of drums and guitars. “Black Flamenco” is faster and somewhat lighter than previous track while “Lights Out” is much heavier than the other tracks. It’s got one hell of a beat and I dare you not to have this stuck in your head for days after listening. Clacking drumsticks open “Man’s Woman” and are soon followed by speedy cymbals and intriguing guitars. Interestingly enough, this was written with country singer Slim Forsythe! “In The Shadows” is soft and smooth…at first. Then things really pick up for a catchy beat. I love the percussion in this. “Dragstrip” has an effective scratchy opening and reeving engine, followed by appropriately fast-paced surf rock. It also features the most varied guitar work on album, although the fast and peppy “Zombie-A-Go-Go” fast and peppy does a run for its money. Both tracks were written with none other than Jake Ortego. Things come to a close with “Hattori Hanzo.” It’s a musical tribute to a famous Japanese historical figure, although many reading this might remember the name from the Kill Bill films. Its low and serious opening leads to a feel of power and determination.

Don’t let the small number of tracks fool you, as many of said tracks on both albums are well over five minutes in length. No matter which incarnation of the band you choose, the Turbosonics will definitely provide an excellent listening experience. And with their newest album coming out in the near future, you won’t have to wait too long to get your next fix. Hopefully the upcoming release of Tres Gatos Suave will lead to more spooky stuff in the future. I’d say “more great music” as well, but I’m pretty sure the band has already got that covered.

Special thanks to the Turbosonics for use of the images!

Aug 12 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Crazed Mugs

The Crazed Mugs
Official Site
Find Forbidden Island, Orange Seal Entertainment 2011

You know what?  It's too hard to make funny comments about cover art these days.  So there will be no more hidden jokes from me unless I am truly inspired by a particular image.

The Crazed Mugs are a Florida-based exotica band which only could have formed in the internet age. Founded in 2004 by the mystery man known only as “pablus,” he met Ken Kanaka through the Tiki Central website. Mr. Kanaka was the man behind the late, great “Tiki Talk” blog, further strengthening the internet aspect of the band. The Crazed Mugs consist of:

Ken Kanaka
Koka Nut
Mr. Ho
Tommy Wanalikilei
Doc Tiki

Yes, that is the same Mr. Ho of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica. The band also has had contributions from guest performers like Jeff “Tiny Bubbles” Berlin, The Amber Love Goddess, Kapu Kelly, Maddy Mango, Vance the Trance, Jammin’ Josh Gibson, Luke the Flute, Gibby the Axeman, Roaring Rick Steuart, Valerie Whispertone and Christiki Hyers.

Although the band’s first album was the 2005 release My Mug Collection, I thought it would be more appropriate to review their more recent second album Find Forbidden Island. Things kick off with the wonderful combination of ukelele and pandeiro work in “Marooned on the Mainland.” It’s a musical tale of a man who yearns for a warmer climate during the winter and gets what he desires in a most unexpected way. I’m hoping they follow it up someday with a song about how the situation he describes at the end of the song went downhill. Try watching Castaway and you’ll see what I mean. “Hello, I Love You, and Goodbye (The Aloha Song)” is a jaunty little ditty about a few of the multiple meanings of the word “aloha” which makes wonderful use of a ukelele and steel guitar. The reggae-influenced “Bamboo Ben (feat. Jeff Berlin)” has a funky percussive beat and makes excellent use of a horn. This song is one of my favorites and I have listened to it countless times. I’m sure you will do the same as well. “Lake Surfer,” which is sometimes known as “Legend of the Lake Surfer,” is a surf track (naturally) and its opening maniacal laugh and eerie chorus enhance the supernatural nature of the titular character. A soft flute, guitar and percussion make up the musical backbone of “Mystery Girl,” a love song devoted to exactly who its title says. “Smuggler’s Cove” is like a dark Jimmy Buffet song and “Rum Barrel” is simply amazing.

Despite what the name might make you think, “Find Forbidden Island” is very soft and mellow. I love the flute playing in this. “Forbidden Island” is also the name of the painting by Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker which is used as the album’s cover art. “Paradise for Two” is also very laid back which is appropriate given its fantasy of life on an island. The occasional use of a duet in the chorus is a great touch. It also turns out this was written by Ken Kanaka on the night of his wedding! More uke goodness and jazzy beats combine with cymbal beats, steel guitar work and vibes in “Island People.” I really wish they had ditched the lyrics and made this an instrumental instead. “But Kilauea” is much lower key and heavier than the rest of the album due to its more depressing subject matter. “Smuggler’s Cove” looks downright cheery in comparison! But that doesn’t make it any less well made. In the ultra catchy “We Spread Aloha,” the band’s plans for the future and their desire to spread happiness and goodwill. According to its official music video, it’s based on actual conversations they’ve had over the years. The video also contains a lot of great information, including the secret origin of the band’s name.

In the link to their Facebook page I gave earlier, the band describes themselves as ” A Musical Mai Tai of Hawaiian-influenced ukulele rock with touches of exotica, Hapa Haole, and surf.” It’s a perfect description given how they combine various musical styles to create songs about various tiki subjects rather than focus solely on exotica. Speaking of their Facebook page, they recently announced how they have a new album in the works. If it’s anything like this one, then we are all in for one hell of a musical experience! If this review makes you decide to pick up a copy through the band’s website? Doing so will also get you a free car decal and other benefits.

Special thanks to the Crazed Mugs for the review copy!

Aug 08 2015

6’+ Episode 153 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“REEL IN SHOCK AND AMAZEMENT! We go BEYOND into a WORLD of SIGHTS both WONDROUS and HORRIBLE! Music from THE TSUNAMIBOTS, THE AMINO ACIDS, THE BLOODTYPES, THE PHENOMENAUTS and more. Try as you might, you can’t avoid YOUR future having another edition of THE MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

Aug 05 2015

Balzac- Bloodsucker

R-7214746-1436343015-7800.jpeg July 7 marked the release of the new Balzac album, Bloodsucker. And since then, I have spent some time with this album.

Unfortunately, Balzac gets disregarded as a Japanese Misfits. And that is mostly based on their look and marketability as such. They have the Misfits connection, but there music is WAY beyond anything Gleen Danzig or Jerry Only have ever dreamed of in their past or present endeavores. Balzac’s musical ideas,abilities,originality and creativity is light years beyond any other band on Earth. And those who have sat down and listened to more that two songs know exactly what I’m talking about. Balzac may have started out as a horrorpunk band, but they have evolved into a musical style that cannot be piegonholed or stereotyped. The lyrical content usually keeps away from campy horror,though not always, in favor of more dark and sinister content and real life horror. Balzac is band know for releasing many versions and remixes of their songs. Even go as far as rerecording a different song with the music from another song and completely changing the music to the first song. They have even created a unique sound that they have dubbed “digital horror”, that can be found in some songs and is strongly present on a few albums. But they also aren’t afraid to strip it down to just 4 guys showing you there immense talent.

And that brings me to Bloodsucker. I can’t say it more simple than, THIS IS A GREAT ALBUM. While 2013’s Blackout , 2010’s Judgment Day and 2009’s Paradox were more experimental,aggresive, noise driven albums, Bloodsucker has more in common with 2008’s Hatred:Destruction=Construction album. In that I can listen to the album straight through and really enjoy it.

That’s not to say there isn’t aggression or noise on Bloodsucker, but Bloodsucker is a more rounded out album. We start ot with a quick 50 seconds creepout of strange sounds with “12-20-68 7-4-69″. It is follwed up by the hardcore with a slight metal tinged “I Suffer”. The other hard hitters on here like “Bloodsucker” and “Atom Age II” showcase just how rowdy these boys can get. The Ace of Spades tinged “Spit It Out” is definitely a toe tapping, fist pumper. While songs like “199666” and a few Japanese titled songs are structured more like older Balzac songs. Perhaps a Beware of Darkness or Came Out of the Grave era Balzac. As is the Halloween anthem “Trick or Treat”.  And the song “Wonderwall”  ,a single that was released last year that made it’s way to this album, harkens back to Balzac’s Deep Blue:Chaos from Darkism days.

All in all, there is a lot of stuff to grab onto in this album and to keep all Balzac fans satisfied. A great album that never gets boring or feels like it’s dragging. And 14 tracks is the perfect amount of songs for an album. Bloodsucker will definetly go down as one of Balzac’s finest achievements and a classic album.


Aug 04 2015

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return


2015 has proven to be quite the year for the world of exotica. Although several great albums have been (or will be) released, I thought it best to save discussion of those for another time. It seemed to be the only appropriate way to handle the matter, given the recent passing of exotica pioneer Robert Drasnin. The only silver lining to this cloud is that Mr. Drasnin’s status as one of the founding fathers of the genre is finally being widely recognized. I would like to dedicate this year’s Freaky Tiki Surf-ari to him.

As you wait for this year’s crop of reviews, please enjoy last year’s complete series:

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6′+ Episode 116 is Up!
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Hello Little Olives
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Tsultry Tsounds of Go!Tsunami
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Creepxotica
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion

Every year I share a free exotica download and this time I wanted to do something extra special. And what could be more special than both of the Two Zombies Later compilations from Comfort Stand Recordings? There’s even free printable CD covers for those of us who prefer physical copies of our music.

In memory of Robert Drasnin

Aug 02 2015

Wear And Tear

Over the weekend I finished up the bottled specimens I started last week, applying collection labels and the final weathering treatment.

Here’s the “critter” after it was sealed in it’s bottle with wax. After a week the isopropyl alcohol doesn’t seem to be reacting with the figure’s baked Sculpey or the acrylic paint and liquid acrylic coating it, so I’m pretty sure it will be stable enough for long-term display.

Here’s the same bottle after the label and weathering was applied. Since I have a tendency to under-weather props I went all out on this one, wearing away the paper of the label and applying multiple washes of paint, cocoa powder, and charcoal dust for a very old and worn feel. The end result looks like this thing has been sitting on a damp, dusty shelf for years.

That cloudy film of dust on the bottle is actually a layer of matte fixative that coats and protects all the weathering once it’s done. I’ve scrubbed it off with a brillo pad in spots because I don’t want to cover up all the details of the critter, but I still want that feeling of age and layers of dust.

A medium shot of the finished product. The irregular shape of the wax seal looks like an old, hand applied bit of work. I’m also happy with how the label turned out, with the appearance of paper that’s been slowly mouldering and flaking away over the years.

If you like it, why not try making your own? You’ll find the basic directions over here, a supply of ready-to-print labels here, and any advice I can offer is just an email away.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon. In order to make sure you visit the site, here’s a link to his article about floating your bottled props.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Aug 01 2015

Miskatonic University Specimen Labels

The title pretty much says it all. This is an improved sheet of labels for specimens from Miskatonic University’s Special Collections, based on the original version over here and the revised single label here. The sheet contains three 2″ by 3″ labels and one 3″ by 4″ label for larger samples and includes crop marks to make trimming easier. Just cut to size and glue them to a specimen bottle or case to make an attractive prop.

You can download the PDF file from Google Docs over here.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 31 2015

Bottled Nightmares

One of my best Father’s Day gifts was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera . After spending close to a decade using the same digital camera I bought in back in 2000, a Canon Powershot A-10, the difference is like night and day. I’m finally able to take some quality shots of my props! Well, at least I can’t blame the camera for crappy pictures anymore. Heh.

These are some quick shots of some bottled specimens created using the same basic techniques I discussed back in March . They haven’t undergone the final weathering process, so there’s still quite a bit of work needed to finish them, but I thought you might find their creation interesting.

First up we have one of my “Cthulhu Critters”. One of the reasons I’ve been holding off on bottling these things up is because of their fragility. I was worried that even with a wire armature a small figure like this would be liable to break during handling as it repeatedly hit the inside of the glass jar. That’s still a concern, but a little experimentation demonstrated that the liquid inside the jar provides enough drag to keep the creature inside from accelerating to dangerous levels.

The same creature from another angle. The preservative fluid is isopropyl alcohol with a drop of green food coloring. There hasn’t been any visible sign of a reaction between the fluid and the vinyl or acrylic in the critter, but I’m keeping on eye on it just in case. You’ll also note that I’ve added just a little color to the paraffin wax. Nothing wrong with plain ol’ wax, of course, but the tint helps give an impression of age.

A carnivorous sea worm collected off the coast of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. The preservative fluid in this bottle is a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. It seems to be clearer than isopropyl alcohol, and the color of the fluid is much richer, thanks to it’s higher refractive index.

One of the specimens collected by the Miskatonic expedition to Antarctica in 1931. This “eye” was removed from an amazingly well-preserved aquatic radiate of a heretofore unknown species.

This angle really shows off the structure of the eye. Again, the preservative fluid is a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. The brownish-black tint was produced with one drop each of red and green food coloring. Right now the colors produced are a bit hit and miss, but I think I can solve that by diluting the food coloring with alcohol. With a lower concentration of dye in each drop I should be able to slowly mix the color I want without over-saturating the preservative fluid.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 30 2015

Preserved Tissue Specimen Tutorial

There’s nothing quite like a preserved bit of nastiness in a bottle. A specimen floating in murky liquid in a dirty sample jar just calls out to people.  They want to pick it up, turn it around, and take a good look at what’s inside.  The ickier it is, the better.

This tutorial will show you how to make a gruesome bit of preserved tissue using cheap and readily available materials.  When you’re done you’ll have something like this:

This tutorial builds on ideas originally shared by “Ravenworks69″ in the Halloween Forum.  To start off, you’ll need one of the soft, squishy animals frequently found on discount store shelves in the toy section for around a buck. This will be the core of the tissue specimen. 

Now grab a sharp hobby knife, cackle madly, and prepare to do some surgery.  You need to cut the critter open to scoop out it’s guts and turn it inside out.   These squishy animals are filled with small polystyrene beads.  Feel around until you find the bottom of the internal cavity that holds them.  There will usually be a seam along the body at this location.
Note that I’m wearing protective gloves.  What,  you want me to perform surgery without taking the most basic precautions?  Are you some kind of barbarian?

Once you find it, make an incision into the cavity and remove the little plastic beads inside.  A shop-vac will make this considerably easier, since the little spheres are amazingly sensitive to static electricity and cling to everything.

Once the beads are out, remove the tail and turn the whole creature inside out.

 To keep our specimen from floating to the top of the specimen bottle we need to weigh it down a bit.  Why?  Because the flexible vinyl of the dinosaur, and the other materials we’ll be adding, all float.  We need to add enough mass to make the final creature neutrally buoyant.  Decorative glass gems are perfect for this, since they’re cheap and totally water safe.  Push two or three into the cavity you created when you turned the animal inside out.
Now we need to bulk up the body.  Hit up the sewing section of your local megamart and you’ll find bags of polyester fiberfill for a few dollars.  Each bag has enough stuffing for one pillow, or hundreds of our little floating nightmares.  Pack the interior cavity with as much stuffing as possible.  Don’t be shy about stretching the vinyl- you want it to give the specimen some heft and body.  The blunt end of a bamboo skewer makes a handy tool for packing in the polyester fibers as tightly as possible.

Once you’re done you’ll have a plump little sausage of vinyl filled with glass and polyester.  Hey, isn’t something missing?

That’s right, the tail.  We’ll stick that through our incision to add some more texture.  Coiling the length of the tail around on itself gives a good approximation of the organic shapes of real tissue.

 Now it’s time to give our specimen some skin.  For that we’ll be using a mixture of acrylic craft paint with Capitol brand latex carpet adhesive, available at any Home Depot.  The paint provides the coloring while the latex forms the water-safe skin.  All together both the paint and latex will cost around five bucks, but you’ll have enough to skin about a dozen small to medium specimens.  
Since the dinosaur was bright green I picked a dark ivy green to provide a complementary color.  Any color of paint will tint the latex, but darker colors provide a stronger coloration.  Experiment with color combinations as you see fit.
If you can’t get Capitol, any pure latex will do.  You could spring for moldmaking or mask latex, but it’s considerably more expensive per ounce than off the shelf carpet adhesive.  Just make sure it’s latex based.  If it is, you’ll get an eye watering whiff of ammonia when you open the top.  Ventilate appropriately.
Oh, and they’re not kidding about the “adhesive” part.  If latex drips onto your clothes or carpet you will never, ever get it out.  Dress in old clothes and prepare your work space with that in mind.
Mix around two heaping tablespoons of the latex with a teaspoon of the acrylic paint in a disposable cup.  You want to thoroughly spread the pigment throughout the latex.  A bamboo skewer or popsicle stick makes a good stirrer.

Keep stirring until the mixture is uniform.  The ammonia fumes will be quite strong, so ventilate appropriately.

Now we apply the tinted latex to the core of our specimen.  A foam makeup wedge is ideal for daubing the mixture on.  You want a thin, overall coat so the latex can dry quickly.  Don’t worry if you miss a spot here and there- we’ll be covering that up with additional layers of latex.  I’ve mounted the specimen on the end of a bamboo skewer* to make it easier to hold.  Stick the end of the skewer in a cup filled with rocks or some of your leftover glass gems to hold it in place.
*Yes, I love bamboo skewers.  They really do have a million uses.
Once you’ve covered the specimen allow the latex to thoroughly dry.  That can take a few hours in the open air, but sticking it in front of a fan can cut that time down to minutes.  Remember, thin is the key.  You should treat the latex almost like a thick paint, applying each coat as thinly as possible.  Here’s what you’ll have once the first layer dries. 

Now apply another layer of latex,  And another.  And another.  In all I gave this piece six coats of latex.  Let each coat dry before applying the next.  If you daub on the latex with a sponge you can build up some really cool surface texture by taking advantage of the material’s natural tackiness.

After applying multiple coats of latex it’s time to rub some of it off.  Poke the latex skin with the tip of  a skewer or the end of a narrow-handled paintbrush, anything that will bite into the latex a bit.  The end of this cheap craft paintbrush has a mold line flange that’s perfect.   Then rub against the latex in small circles.  As you apply pressure the latex it will eventually tear away from the vinyl and create a circular opening.  Insert your tool into the hole and keep rubbing it in circles to widen it.

How cool is that?  You get a neat little pustule effect.  Repeat as needed to create a nasty, diseased appearance.

In one fell swoop you’ve added some interesting visual and textural contrast to the piece.  The smooth exposed vinyl contrasts nicely with the gnarled surface of the latex.  Our next step is going to kick up that surface treatment another notch.  We’re going to drybrush the latex with a contrasting color to bring out the details.

If you’re not familiar with drybrushing, you load a stiff brush with paint, wipe most of it off on a piece of scrap paper, and then lightly run the brush along a textured surface.  The tiny amounts of pigment left on the bristles of the brush stick to the raised areas, producing highlights.   Here’s our specimen after being drybrushed with yellow. 

Here’s a closeup of the skin.  See how the yellow pigment clings to the high spots?  That’s how drybrushing adds depth and detail.

Now you just drop the specimen into a jar filled with water, add a few drops of food coloring and…tada!

Okay, I did skip a few steps there.  But not many.  Rinse out your jar with a weak bleach solution to sterilize it, then fill it with water and drop the finished specimen in.  Gently press out any air that’s trapped inside the specimen.  That should leave your “tissue” sample floating gently along the bottom or side of the bottle.

Food coloring is ideal for tinting the water inside your specimen jar.  I used yellow, which was a bit of a mistake.  It goes nicely with the green, but it also negates the yellow highlighting I spent all that time on.  I should have dry brushed with white instead.

I also added some sediment to the jar by sprinkling in a little garlic powder.  The granules absorb some of the water and swell up, producing a reasonable facsimile of the detritus that flakes off organic specimens over time.  Here’s what it looks like when you give it a good shake.

Finally, I added a wax seal.  This is just bog-standard paraffin melted in a double boiler.  I dipped the lid of the jar in the wax, set it aside to cool, and then repeated the process until the full seal was built up.  Then I grunged it up with some wax-based schmutz. 

There you have it.  A couple of bucks for materials, a few hours of your time, and you can start populating your shelves with all sorts of bottled nastiness.  There are a multitude of refinements you can add to this basic technique, from labels and collection tags to using different squishy animals as a base.  Want a facehugger from “Alien”?  Trim the body of a rubber spider and hot glue part of a rubber snake to it.

One of the advantages of making a “thing in a bottle” is that you can control how visible the creature inside is.  If your specimen looks amazing just add some food coloring and show off your work.  If it’s not that hot, some sediment and a pinch of chalk dust makes the fluid more opaque and covers up any flaws.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

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