Surfing USSR

Surferdelic: Front Cover


This CD was made possible by generous financial assistance of Creative Communities

The Songs
(mp3 player required to hear samples)

  1. Another Glass of Wine
    (0.29, 147KB)
  2. Surfers Paradise
  3. Old Sher (0.24, 127KB)
  4. Rock Out
  5. Resurrection of the Dead
  6. Gypsy Bulgar
  7. Boganville (0.45, 229KB)
  8. You are what you eat
  9. Underage Disco (0.49, 247KB)
  10. Hora and Sirba
  11. 007 Medley
  12. Our Torah
  13. Knock Out
  14. Rumanian Drinking Song
  15. Boganville Coda
  16. Secret Agent Man

Total Playing Time 58 min

Surfing USSR's music is based on traditional klezmer melodies filtered through the individual band members backgrounds.

Surfing USSR are...

Greg Malcolm - guitar
Marc Howe - bass
Chris O Connor - drums

SurfingUSSR hit the beach

Notoriety, they always had plenty of, but popular and critical acceptance came slowly to Surfing USSR.

Numerous setbacks were encountered and defeated along the way, such as the difficult time when a media leak revealed that only one band member really surfed.

Surfing USSR's authenticity was under question but their immense popularity with the public remained unaffected. Since then the band have gone from strength to strength after modifying their show based on the many suggestions received in their suggestion box.

Today, it would seem very hard to say enough good things about Surfing USSR and anyone who doubts that has only to listen to one side of this CD.

- Steve Albino

Album Reviews

  John Kennedy, The Dominion, October 6th 2001:

"One would be hard-pushed to find another collection of guitar-based instrumentals that's more an antinthesis of Cruisin' than Surfing USSR's Surferdelic. The band is the latest project from Christchurch guitarist Greg Malcolm. Their disc is a prompt follow-up to Malcolm's What is It Keith?, one of the great releases of last year, local or otherwise.

Malcolm's previous work has been finely crafted both musically and conceptually. Here the music speaks more directly of his love of a good tune, all within the Jewish idiom of klezmer. With bassist Marc Howe and drummer Matt Gibb he merges these traditional melodies with the American surf guitar sound, along with a touch of disco and psychedelic rock along the way.

It's a fusion that's consistently successful, in no small part due to the depth of Malcolm's guitar arrangements. Surfer's Paradise opens with a slow and typically wry klezmer theme being quietly offset by especially abrasive distortion, like a second guitar being dismantled by a wildly malfunctioning toy robot.

These disquieting but humorous effects are a common feature of Malcolm's music. So are inspired background details like the motor-activated guitar drone under Rock Out and the sparkling acoustic guitar placed against a forcefully sustained electric lead on the epic Boganville.

Rumanian Drinking Song is a more subdued piece. The group negotiates a subtle occidental folk beat, showing a profound empathy for the archaic tune, though none of the band is actually Jewish.

It's well past time for Malcolm's sometimes misrepresented genius to be recognised. Look out for further proof, in the form of the two very different solo guitar albums in the pipeline for release next year."

Brent Cardy Real Groove, October 2001

"Surferdelic, is an hour of space surfin' guitar, with a cartoon cover and a soul of fun to match."

Newspaper Articles


Catch the wave

Reporter: Nick Gormack
Christchurch Press,
Date: March 2001

Put surf music and traditional Jewish klezmer music together and what do you get? Christchurch band Surfing USSR that's what. NICK GORMACK reports.

Christchurch musician Greg Malcolm sees his unusual Surfing USSR project as definitely his most accessible band to date - although even then it certainly couldn't be described as commercial.

Surfing USSR play instrumental surf tunes based on melodies from traditional Jewish klezmer music and eastern European folk tunes.

The band - Greg Malcolm (guitar), Marc Howe (bass), and Matt Gibb (drums) - formed two years ago in Christchurch and are about to release their first CD, Surfadelic.

Both Howe and Gibb are recent graduates from the Christchurch Jazz School, while Malcolm has been involved with music for a long time.

Malcolm - who says none of the band have any Jewish connections, although one of them does surf - admits it's an unusual musical mix, although he says klezmer music "lends itself remarkably well to the surf sound".

He says the new CD, of which they have initially produced 500 copies, features 14 tracks - ranging stylistically "from disco to psychedelic freak-outs".

Malcolm says he "fell in love with traditional klezmer melodies" while living in Berlin for two years, where he says a lot of people are doing different things with the music - "covering everything from punk bands to string quartets".

He says klezmer music uses different scales and intervals from other music, which give it a distinctive structure and sound.

"I usually just pick out a line from a clarinet or something and base the song on that - there are thousands of possibilities as to what you can do with it. Once we've worked on a piece it's not always that obvious where it came from, although the structure is still basically there."

Malcolm has been involved in the fringe music scene for over 15 years.

He has released two solo albums, Trust Only This Face (1996) and last year's What is it Keith? which was recorded in Berlin with some of the leading proponents of the improvised/new music scene, and was well received.

Other projects which Malcolm has been involved with include the children's duo Such'n'Such, which toured schools throughout New Zealand, the improvisational group Don't Make a Noise, experimental jazz outfit One Leg Too Short, and he was also the guitarist in Jay Clarkson's band Breathing Cage.

With the possible exception of Breathing Cage, who released two successful albums and were certainly in the alternative mainstream at one point, most of Malcolm's efforts have been more on the fringe - a place which he says he is more happy to inhabit.

"Surfing USSR is probably my attempt to be more popular and even then it's not what everyone's into, although plenty of people seem to enjoy it. We enjoy it."

what is it keith | trust only this face
surfing ussr | homesick for nowhere | call such 'n' such
collaborations | swimming in it | hung
bio-discography | blog | feedback / contact