AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz
This rather shadowy figure -- the CD's only picture of him is bathed in darkness -- was once lead guitarist for the deliciously named Dutch group the Treble Spankers who, the publicity notes state, were one of Europe's most popular surf bands. Phantom Frank's debut solo release uses that genre as a starting point, but veers into other styles during its nearly one hour playing time. Frank -- whose last name is nowhere to be found -- plays all the instruments in a tour de force performance that never drags. Although it might grab at retro straws, it is never stuffy, musty or predictable. A few mostly female vocals punctuate the instrumentals as the musician tears from the Dick Dale-styled intensity of "Punjabi" to the cha cha, Spaghetti Western twang of "Vermona" -- one of three extra tracks added for the album's U.S. release. The recording, mixing, and production, also all done by Frank, perfectly capture the often spooky ambiance, especially on Ennio Morricone-inspired tracks such as "Kapuna" with tape delay echo hovering over the track. "Fata Morgana" displays Frank's talents on the lap steel, an instrument perfect for this style. He flies to Hawaii for further lap steel adventures on "Dusseldorf HBF." A Middle Eastern vibe saturates "Darshan," which brings even more international intrigue with an accordion adding flavor. "Condition Black" brings an ominous vibes and a thudding, sparse drumbeat to the table, creating one of the album's most eerie, disconcerting, and atmospheric tunes. Most impressive is that this set doesn't have the insular feel of a one-man recording. The songs are spacious, open and never overly busy. Frank overdubs himself as he finds the sweet spot in these 17 short yet never abbreviated and perfectly imagined tracks, which are not just for the surf inclined.