Surf Rock Music Because It Rocks

The Secret Samurai: Zanshin

The Secret Samurai: Zanshin Music Reviews by Duke
Review by: Duke

Just when you think you've heard it all, along come The Secret Samurai. These men are extremely good. The amazing quality of their refreshingly unique music is punctuated by their ultra high-caliber musicianship.

This was the first time I'd heard The Secret Samurai. Sometimes I amaze myself ... in a frustrating way. How could I have missed a band and music this good for so long? Maybe I need to take some wake-up pills and give myself a swift size-12 kick in the you know where.

The Secret Samurai's second release, Zanshin, boasts an awesome assault by guitarist Ryan Ruiz. A terrific surf album to be sure, Zanshin also captures the essence of the Orient, the Middle East and cool things south of the border.

Featured on this disc: Ryan Ruiz - Guitar, Steve Van Wyk - Bass, Bill Zuck - Drums, Dave Klein - Keyboards and Percussion

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Zanshin - Ryan Ruiz wastes no time getting down to business. From the moment Zanshin begins, he's stroking that guitar like a man possessed. Talk about fretboard gymnastics, Ryan works those strings at a dizzying pace. This man can really pick. Zanshin is an uber cool, hyperspeed surf song. The Secret Samurai's staccato attack at the end is super neat.

Turkish Gold - With an underlying surf feel, Turkish Gold has carats and carats of Middle Eastern charm. The excellent arrangement, coupled with more fretboard pyrotechnics by Ryan Ruiz, sets Turkish Gold apart from the mainstream. br>
Truthtrance - The name most definitely fits. Truthtrance is a dreamy, hypnotic tune which, for some strange reason, makes me think of Svengali. It's very easy to imagine a darkened room ... a floating, disembodied face appears ... and the rapture begins. Extremely cool, trance inducing number.

The Martyr - Ryan Ruiz must have forearms like Popeye. His strength is not only evident, it's unrelenting. The Martyr showcases Ryan's talent as he sets his guitar on fire in this mega high-energy surf track.

Raskolnikov's Revenge - An action-packed song, Raskolnikov's Revenge is like a trip through the mind of a man whose only focus in life is getting even with someone who has betrayed him. Dave Klein's subtle, yet perfectly placed, keyboards add to the thrill of the hunt as Raskolnikov closes in on his prey.

Carioca - With a tantalizing south of the border feel to it, Carioca evokes thoughts of Rio de Janeiro, a beautiful place with beautiful people. And speaking of beautiful, Carioca grabs that prize. Ryan Ruiz demonstrates some remarkable pizzicato string plucking as The Secret Samurai rock out Brazilian style.

One Armed Man - I love the juxtaposition between a happy-go-lucky mood one minute and a dark, almost ominous mood the next. Perhaps it reflects the highs and lows of someone who has suffered the loss of a limb. Perhaps it's the one armed man fleeing Dr. Richard Kimble. One thing is for sure, One Armed Man is a very thought provoking surf song.

Al Ghayb - This is an awe inspiring song, with a Middle Eastern flair. Al Ghayb is a fast-paced masterpiece that draws you into its clutches and holds you like a set of Vise-Grips. Stellar musicianship and a terrific composition put Al Ghayb smack dab in the center of any music-to-be-heard list. The percussion and accompanying keyboards complement this tasty music morsel, like sprinkles on a cupcake.

Disenchanted - After a hard day in the saddle, I head for the local cantina to wash down some trail dust. While sipping a tall, cool one and taking in my surroundings, Disenchanted envelops the room with its sultry beauty. At the far end of the bar a pretty senorita is staring at me. I can't be sure, but the look on her face tells me that she's disenchanted with what she sees. If that's the case, I can't blame her. After all, I'm getting old and gray and bent. One thing I do know for sure, though, is that she's not disenchanted with Disenchanted. It's much too beautiful. And the way she's swaying her hips to the music ... well ... The Secret Samurai just hit paydirt.

The Curse - Another great showcase for Ryan Ruiz. Does this man ever get tired? He tears it up with The Curse. A high-energy surf number, fast and furious.

Warning: The Curse is a cool song that is intended for listening only. Do not use it to cast spells.

Haulin' Honda - Lively upbeat tune that gets your head bouncing like a motorcycle's swingarm. As an avid motorcyclist in my younger years, I've straddled everything from Hondas to Harleys to Kawasaki Police Specials. I did own a Honda Goldwing at one time and Haulin' Honda would have been the perfect companion on those long night rides through the desert. It would've been a gas to have it blasting through the fairing's speakers.

After The Secret Samurai rocked my shock absorbers for the first 1:45, Ryan Ruiz shifted the gearbox into fuzztone at the 1:46 mark. Ryan's shift brought back memories of one particular hell-bent-for-leather ride at three o'clock in the morning. The full moon was lighting up the sagebrush like Christmas tree ornaments. With 100 miles to go, I cracked the throttle. As Commander Cody would say, "...telephone poles looked like a picket fence." My favorite gal was waiting down the road and I'd be home soon. Yup, I've honestly been there and done that. If there is a next time, mark my words, Haulin' Honda will be on the bike with me.

Musume Doseiji - Totally cool rock 'n' surf tune. Man, this thing cooks and flat kicks some serious butt. I love this song. It's a throwback to the early days of rock and surf music when it was full speed ahead, get out of my way 'cause I'm coming through. Dig that wild 12-bar guitar treat at 1:24 and that tasty 4-bar drum goody following it at 1:44.

The Khazar - It's that time again. I can hear it coming. Better hold onto my bootstraps before The Secret Samurai blow me away. The Khazar is lightning speed surf music with a mind boggling array of double picking, glissandos, staccato attacks, pizzicato attacks, more attacks and then some. You would think that by the time they reached the 13th track The Secret Samurai would be slowing down, but it ain't happening. They're just getting warmed up. As for me, my bootstraps didn't help. I'm absolutely blown away. I do believe Itzhak Perlman would dig The Khazar.

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Zanshin is a stellar CD. The musicianship is flawless. Ryan Ruiz is an outstanding guitarist. Steve Van Wyk, Bill Zuck and Dave Klein are absolutely terrific. These four men make Zanshin a CD for the ages.

The Secret Samurai: Zanshin
01)  Zanshin Ryan Ruiz 2:47
02)  Turkish Gold Ryan Ruiz 3:51
03)  Truthtrance Ryan Ruiz 3:21
04)  The Martyr Ryan Ruiz 3:26
05)  Raskolnikov's Revenge Ryan Ruiz 3:16
06)  Carioca V. Youmans, G. Kahn, E. Eliscu 2:18
07)  One Armed Man Ryan Ruiz 3:03
08)  Al Ghayb Ryan Ruiz 3:25
09)  Disenchanted Ryan Ruiz 4:05
10)  The Curse Ryan Ruiz 3:09
11)  Haulin' Honda G. Kastner, J. Kolbrak 2:32
12)  Musume Doseiji Traditional Japanese Nagauta Song 2:56
(Track 12 Cont.)
Arrangement by Takeshi Terauchi
13)  The Khazar Ryan Ruiz 2:54

The Secret Samurai

Review by: Duke

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