On the his new album ‘The Wave Files’, guitarist Scott Helland conjures images of secret agents, high-speed chases, and hidden agendas through his intricate layered compositions. His mix of surf guitar techniques, such as reverb-drenched chords, lightning-fast tremolo picking, and tremolo bar vibrato via a Bigsby bridge pedal, creates a sonic landscape that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking. Combining the thrilling sounds of spy-themed instrumental surf guitar music with punk vitality, Guitarmy of One takes listeners on a sonic adventure to the realms of intrigue, danger, and surf-soaked excitement.
Picking up where his previous album ‘The Spy Detective Collective’ left off, the theme of the new album is espionage on the open sea. In a bit of coded intrigue, each song blatantly and not so blatantly contains the word ‘sea’ buried in them. The song titles reference 60s and 70s spy, detective and sci-fi shows like Kolchak the Nightstalker in the song 'Kolchak meets the Sea Mobster', Hawaii 50 in 'Jack Lord of the Sea', The Saint in 'Seance for the Saint' and Soylent Green in "Soylent Seafoam Green' as well as real life mobsters like Legs Diamond in 'Sea Legs Diamond'.
Hailing from a background rooted in the rebellious energy of punk rock and thrash metal, Helland got his start playing bass guitar in the hardcore punk scene in the 80s and 90s with the band Deep Wound that he formed with J Mascis and Lou Barlow (now of Dinosaur jr). He also played with East Coast hardcore and crossover thrash stalwarts Outpatients, School of Violence and Darkside NYC. He went solo in the mid nineties releasing numerous eclectic instrumental albums and then in 2005 formed the post-punk dark pop cabaret duo Frenchy and the Punk with French born singer Samantha Stephenson with whom he still tours. With Guitarmy of One, Helland channels that raw and unconventional spirit into a unique fusion of genres.
Helland says “The first song I remember being obsessed with as a kid was the Hawaii 50 theme, the Ventures version and the TV show version, from there it was the James Bond theme and after that, as a teenager, it was a deep dive into bands like the Ramones, The Cure, Kraftwerk, Discharge and Motorhead.”
Described by BigTakeOver Magazine as “an accomplished ex-punk who has made the striking transition to atmospheric soundtracks,” Helland weaves his mysterious and generous acoustic-electric melodies over propulsive spy riffs and electro beats, layering and building patiently toward engrossing payoffs.
Guitarmy of One’s live performances are a spectacle as the stage becomes a laboratory of sound, as layers of guitar riffs, bass lines, and percussion intertwine and overlap, creating a lush and dynamic musical tapestry. Armed with a guitar, loop pedals, drum pads and an array of effects pedals, Helland creates a symphony of sound right before your eyes.
With ‘The Wave Files’ Guitarmy of One has become a full-fledged espionage-inspired surf rock act. It’s a thrilling musical journey blending the realms of instrumental guitar, surf music and the mystique of spy themes within the one person band format.
"Scott Helland's Guitarmy of One will strike a chord with those schooled in '60s-era surf rock and Henry Mancini themes."
"Helland adds colorful, complementing guitar lines that hint at flamenco almost as often as they do at Ventures-style surf-rock."
"This is a joy-filled and oddly flirtatious little record from start to finish. Helland has tapped something interesting and, dare we say, magical on The Spy Detective Collective."
"[Scott Helland] never fails to surprise with his continuous evolution as an artist."
Ghost Cult Music Blog
"Helland’s prolific songwriting has yielded him over 30 records since the ‘80s, ever since that fateful flyer fell into the hands of lo-fi heroes, J Mascis and Lou Barlow."
"Dick Dale meets Keller Williams." "Outlandish, playful and mysterious... like the soundtrack to an old detective television show."
Alt77 Music Blog
Fans like this writer, of Spy and 60s detective movie and TV show themes have itches deeply scratched here, along with components of surf (occasional echoey fret runs) and strong Spanish flamenco stylings and intricate blues-folk patterns that Django Reinhardt might admire.’
The Big Takeover Magazine