I remember browsing the many CD isles at the Tyson's Corner Tower Records (RIP) in 2002, hungry for new sounds, as always. One of the great things about "crate digging", as vinyl heads and (real) deejays call it, is the element of surprise. What kind of music might an album with a certain type of cover art yield? Sometimes it was nothing you'd expect, while other times the artwork conveyed precisely the sounds of the product at hand. The latter was definitely the case with Secret Frequency Crew's "Underwater Adventure Hop Secret Treasure". Futuristic and forward-thinking, "aquatic", epic and awesome are a few ways to describe this mimi-album masterpiece from out of left-field. It's instrumental hip hop at its finest, with an IDM soul - something that would be right at home on the Merck Recordings roster, but instead was released on the lesser-known Counterflow Recordings.
The group, a collective trio of deejays and electronic music producers, kept information about themselves on the downlow. According to Last FM:
Secret Frequency Crew are Matthew Brown, Matt Friedman, and Adrian Michna. Etablished in 1995 in Upstate New York. They were originally a mail order business and used profits to build music studios and travel. SFC's first EP dating back to 2001 Deep Blue EP (12") followed, in the same year by "The Underwater Adventure Hop Secret Treasure" both on Counterflow Recordings. After a sporadic series of EPs released on Counterflow Recordings and Mass Transit, the trio released their debut album in 2004, Forest Of The Echo Downs, on Miami-based Schematic. In 2005, SFC released The Black Moss EP (12") on Touchin' Bass. The group maintains some secrecy and has not released much promotional information other than their music.
SFC still produce music, mainly available in digital/MP3 format, and one of the founding members, Michna, releases music via Ghostly International. As for Underwater Adventure Hop Secret Treasure, I originally purchased the CD ep version, which came with a great fold out poster. Still, I was glad to find a vinyl copy via Ebay, in great shape, for a decent price.
Underwater Adventure Hop Secret Treasure will always be one of my all-time top surprise finds, purchased solely based on the cover art, I discovered a world of sound equally measuring up to the spectacular visuals. Below is a sampling from this release, as well as the subsequent, equally excellent LP from 2004, Forest of the Echo Downs.