Zak Riles – Self Titled (Important Records) Review

Zak Riles is mostly known for his creative contributions and song-writing for the psychedelic groove band Grails, whom are based out of Portland, OE; yet often overlooked is this solo CD released in November of 2008 by Important Records.
If you listen closely and compare certain songs from this release to early Grails material, you will notice similar riffs and elements that were eventually adapted and altered to play with the full band. The most blatant example would be Sand/Silk Road Origin which is practically identical to Silk Road found on Grails’ release Burning Off The Impurities. That being said, Riles still manages to pulls a serious amount of individuality and uniqueness out of himself and into this solo-release.
The first and last tracks are filled with bright finger picking guitar riffs that pull influence from greats like John Fahey and Leo Kottke. However, in between these bright and cheerful songs lays something much deeper and more profound. With an undeniable rhythm and melodies that will perk your ears and cause your hair to stand on it's end,, this is the way instrumental music should be made. Powerful and moving. The production is astounding.
Songs like “Res Extensa” with it’s Vibraphone intro (played by Jordan Hudson) and “Sand/Silk Road Origin” with it’s groovy Persian guitar influence, show multiple international elements at play within this music. The drumming and percussion is very orchestral and march-like, with use of timpani and kettledrums that really bring out a nice low-end tone.
I’m not going to put this up for download because I believe that Important Records is far too small and UNDERRATED, but I’m including some tracks for streaming and a link to the Online Store where it can be ordered. The inspiration I’ve pulled from this album as a person and an evolving musician is close to immeasurable, and for that I highly recommend it. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks…

Side note: This past Fall while raking an obnoxious amount of leaves in my Father's yard, we swapped iPods. He listened to this and after 25 minutes of silence and raking my dad takes the headphones off and with a smile looks at me and says…”This is some trippy stuff!”

Zak Riles – Self Titled (Important Records, Nov. 2004)


Zak Riles:
Acoustic guitar
Electric guitar

Jordan Hudson:

Kate O’Brien:

William Slater:

The closing song:


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