Summer is the perfect season to release Hellified Irie, as it contains a summer theme and a laid-back vibe. It’s a tribute to surf music and surf culture, in particular the hazy, lazy minutes between the waves, waiting for the next big breaker, watching the sun sparkling on the sea; but also the tumbling out of bed, eager to encounter the sunrise surf before the grommets arrive and the tourists drop in on the once secret spots. There are no huge surf moments – no shooting the tube or skipping like a stone across a reef, snapping one’s board yet emerging intact. Hellified Irie, despite its appearance, means extremely great, as in everything is going to be alright.
When listening to the album, one gains a sense of decentralized peace. The mind wanders to gentle places, the echoes of surf guitar twanging in the brain, reminding one of the pleasures that await; there’s always a wave breaking somewhere. Today: thunderstorms, choppy waters, and although I could be out there myself, I’m content to remain inside, listening to the soundtrack of my thoughts on Mason’s reel-to-reel, with field recordings and lo-fi masters, and reading about it in his photographic memoir/recording diary. FET Press has produced a slim, shiny book to accompany Mason’s digital download, and it’s a sweet tribute to family, music and the creative process. The only irony is that the photos were taken by a camera that eventually died in a pool. A pool? Who surfs in a pool?
Mason implies, but does not state, that parallels can be made between the cycle of surfing and that of life in general. When he writes of a former friend killed by a drug dealer and follows the section with a meditation on waiting for the next set, one cannot help but think about the waves of conflict that enter every life. Learn to ride the waves, and one will earn the peace of floating, shading one’s eyes, staring through clear waters at turtles and tropical fish. “Finally, I understand the importance of rest,” Mason writes. By the end, he has found – and shared – his state of hellified irie. (Richard Allen)