What you have on this album are tunes – not throwaway, annoyingly catchy or utterly vacuous tunes – but compositions that are easy on the ear at the same time as being completely engaging and the sort of thing into which you can really sink your fangs.
“Tricking King Swordfish” has an air of Harvey Mandel to some of the guitar leads and you'll hear a complete mix of biting soloing that all of a sudden changes to a cauldron of almost guitar-tronics, then back again to the delicacy, all the time propelled by the bouncing drumming and solid, funky bass line, the addition of even more resonant guitar figures, resounding out to great effect, even gathering strength to go even harder, all gives the track a huge amount going on that never stands still, but at the same time, commanding your attention throughout as it changes its skin more than a chameleon.
“Night Ashore” is what the name suggests – reflective, slowly flowing and a delicate mix of undulating rhythms above which guitar shapes hang and shimmer, solo and soar, as the track moves through the dusk and into a slowly enveloping night sky.
All this and more, on a simply gorgeous instrumental album – nothing demanding, plenty commanding and deserving your attention.
Andy Garibaldi (Gee-Force)
“Actually, the album cover of Surfacing neatly evokes their sound. The instrumentation and treatment really does sound kind of bubbly, and the music style says sunny beach and rollers, seagulls, jellyfish and seaweed. Kelp Dwellers are almost exclusively upbeat and positive in their outlook, this is music with a smile; toe-tapping tunes to bathe in, also exploring the places below the surface of normal progressive music...
Although much of the music is light and breezy, at first listen it comes across as simple and easy, there is a complexity in the construction which retains the interest and rewards multiple listens. Elsewhere, we have moments of jazzy reflection, drums sounding like splashing waves, the music ebbing and flowing, but always returning to the sun, sand and surf. It’s just such an enjoyable journey, the real world forgotten for 40 minutes or so...
It is an album which has its own sound, and it is simply here to be enjoyed. Better to sit back and let it wash over you, soak up the atmosphere and breath in the fresh air and ozone. I swear you can smell it. Just take a dip.”
THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT (Graham Thomas).
“The Kelp Dwellers’ music is a lot of fun and has its own identity and flavor...
..as the guitar soloing comes over the top it gets a definite infusion of surf music. There are some cool twists and turns built into the piece that at times take it toward fusion and more full prog zones. There are some killer heavier moments here, too...
Their music seems to do a great job of merging a guitar prog and a fusion aesthetic. It gets decidedly heavy at times.”
MUSIC STREET JOURNAL (Gary Hill).
“The Kelp Dwellers make music that might be described as surf rock, but that really isn’t what it is, in that this is not the super technical high speed style of early 60s bands like the Ventures or Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, or even the summer-meets-fun pop of Jan & Dean and the like. Instead, this is honest and overtly melodic instrumental rock, along with elements of jazz and progressive rock...
..one thing that makes the Kelp Dwellers’ sound different than most guitar-based trios is that their material is composed by Montgomery on tenor guitars (4 strings tuned in fifths, or 8 strings in the case of the mandocello), which gives the resulting chords a different feel than one would get from a standard six string. Some of the songs like the even more breezy “Otter Finleys” groove along without a care.”
EXPOSÉ (Peter Thelen).
Reflecting on the song, Swordfish, Jones said, "upon my second and third listening to this, it really has grown on me. I know how hard it is to achieve something that sticks in your head. I really like the beautiful Fripp-like sounds. Keep going!"
MARTYN JONES (Mermen band).