lost for wordsMaking an instrumental album is a brave step for someone best known for doom-laden tunes about living eyes, muscle cars and human reinvention under piles of ice and snow, but Deniz Tek's departure from the well-worn path really works.

From the scuzzy serrated intro of "Eddie Would Go" with its air of "Human Fly" Cramps crossing swords with Davie Allan to the clean and lean retake on Radio Birdman's "Zeno Beach", "Lost For Words" makes a voice-less statement about simpler times.

Back in the '60s, a pre-teen Tek cut his musical teeth on these sorts of songs. Surf music (and its variants) was a radio staple around the world. Tek told Perfect Sound Forever in 2001:

"The first rock and roll song I learned to play on the guitar in entirety was 'Walk Don’t Run.' I was 12-years-old. And their version of the Hawaii Five-0 theme was a great inspiration to me in the summer of 1969, the year I started driving fast cars. When it came on the radio, the ‘68 Charger went much faster!"

Minimal distortion and mostly clean tonality characterise the 10 songs on "Lost For Words". Deniz has been known to characterise his own vocals as "a damaged instrument" but you can still hear where they'd fit on a few songs.

"It Shall Be Life" is a cousin of "Hondo's Dig", the set opener for the Deniz Tek Group in the '90s. The latter is a Western movie theme laced with a wicked lead break and released on the "Number off The Beat" EP. An ode to John Wayne, it's reprised here in superior form.

"Vanished" is actually a warehoused Radio Birdman song that, apart from the odd chord progression, sounds about as far from that band's regular oeuvre as you could get. It evokes a languid and unstressed sound and probably reflects the way the album was intended to be made.

Guest spots from Dr Hoyle and Fleshtone Keith Streng spice things up but th album's mostly the work of Tek's core recording unit of himself, drummer Ric Parnell and bassist Bob Brown, who also produced.

Pip Hoyle's keys sometime struggle for a place in Tek's Radio Birdman songs. Here, his slightly off-the-beat trimmings work with occasional sax from Erik Olson to embellish and embolden.

Call it a minority verdict but the last Tek album "Mean Old Twister" sounded like it lacked spark after the bleak and confronting "Detroit" record that came before it. Ironically, the spy movie-meets-Telstar instrumental "Commanche" was one of that album's standouts, and "Lost For Words" catches the same breeze. - The Barman


Deniz Tek: American-born naturalised Australian and the person I mostly blame for throughly infecting Aussies with Detroit Fever.

Geeze, for the longest time you couldn’t take five steps in Sydney without falling over another Stooges/MC5 inspired band - “and lovin it” as Maxwell Smart said. We all know Den is good with kites and Bandaids, but most of us have a relationship with him and his guitar.

Obviously now would be a good time to go on and on about Birdman and the diehard, rusted-on, loyal-as-all-fuck Birdman Army Reserves but fuck that, well just for now anyways.

When I read Deniz had completed a guitar based record with no vocals - or Nil By Mouth as my friend Adam said - I just thought it was such a great idea for right now, and just something I really felt like I wanted to listen to, and needed. This record doesn’t disappoint.

In essence it’s simple but, oh my, the subtleties are around every corner, and of course there’s influences, but distilled through personal experience and experiences; take what you love and make it your own. Sounds easy but it’s not. Lots of whammy bar but, hey, the guitar is in the spotlight here. Not to abandon piano, sax, organ, but the album is smothered with distinctive guitar tones that go from dirty ass to sky travel, to Bondi Beach, Darlinghurst back alleys, and some mountains in the USA and back down to a fight with Clint Eastwood.

It’s a diverse focused piece of art to collect and decorate this sonic panoramic guitar world along with perfectly "inside the song" rhythms, it’s also refreshingly mature, but not old. It’s Deniz personally and respectfully acknowledging his longest love. I think this will be in my currently playing pile of records way into summer. - Ashley Thomson

"Lost For Words" is really cool. The guitar sounds are familiar, akin to "Take It To The Vertical" or, dare I say, the "Orphan Tracks" era. I love it.

This collection of ideas might be "lost for words" but I can absolutely hear the vocal lines Tek woulda put to these tracks... it makes this record unique. It’s a beautiful album, musically, and the quality of packaging and art work is superbe too. Hawaii and surf guitar drip from it; "Eddie Would Go" and "Song For Dave" delve into the style of The Atlantics’ Bombora or even Dick Dale, rhythmically. On the track "Boneyard", it’s not a stretch to imagine Iggy coming through on vocals.

It’s clear that significant care went into working up these song ideas…and it’s evident this was meant to be a real rhythm guitar player’s record. Tek’s lead work, and those added in selectively by Keith Streng, sit seamlessly within the traditions of Tek’s back catalogue. The use of sax and keys aren’t overdone, adding immeasurably to the outcome of this record.

But the great thing about "Lost For Words" is the boldness of actually committing to making an amazing collection of pure instrumental tracks. 

Rating: It’s not my place to judge this. But from a fan’s perspective, if "Outside" represents Tek’s peak at five bottles, then I’d rate the quality of ‘Lost For Words’ at a solid 4.5 bottles. - Dylan Webster 


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