Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Exotic Triptych: Martin Denny- Exotica Vols. I, II, & III (1957, 58, 59)


In order to properly finish what a previous post had started, here's the three Exotica records. Here, Denny issues his Tiki Manifesto, taking what Les Baxter had previously invented for the vast lushness of the orchestra, and scaling it down to a small jazz combo... thus creating arguably the most archetypal and influential work of the genre. This is essential stuff, so grab it, fellows.




Vol. I

Vol. II

Vol. III

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beautiful and Horrible With Life: Sabu- Sorcery! (1958)



I was going to tell you what a thoroughly gripping blast of furious jungle jazz exotica this is, but then I read the back cover literature (kindly transcribed by Mr. Bacosco over at Orgy in Rhythm), and realized that this mammoth black magic monster can very well speak for itself:

From the shores of the rivers of the sun come sounds, sounds various, beautiful and horrible with life, sounds as old as time, heard when brute creatures trod the earth, sounds that owe nothing to civilization and everything to rank and teeming biology. Product of a thousand animal and insect chirps, creeks, wails, thuds, thumps and stricken cries, they are an aural anthology of nature in its true guise, that nature that owns the earth and speaks for it, nature that is as ancient as the planets and as endless as the sun itself. The brooding heat that makes fecund every mite and molecule it touches has teemed into being a million forms of curious life, forms in the water, on land, in the earth and in the air, forms that live on other forms, or within them. Even their diseases are themselves new forms of life, life spongily multiplying amid death everywhere in an eternal cycle that produces its own whirring, multi-farious cacophony like the inner workings of a monstrous biological machine turned loose and run amuk. Man, the white-collared animal, occasionally dares to insert his prying boat, a lone dugout or a venturesome canoe, into these regions hung with vine where waters run that are grown to their surfaces with vagrant lilies, errant bitter ferns of musty odor, slime-decked pools of dead life rising with the swell. Man, the technical beast, opens an ear to the voice that sounds and he hears the original black and sordid magic of life, that sorcery he too came out of and now fears.

Here a mating call and a death rattle uttered by separate and independent beasts combine into a peculiar, haunting chime. The whine of a mateless mammal and the ticking of some hundred tiny pests occur haphazardly together to give an orchestra of blood and friction music indiscriminately scored for fauna and winds. The earth moves and the air moves with it and the whole regenerate pulsing and green-grown ball of firmament plunges through space as though it had a destiny. The tentacles of insects tickle the fringes of the cosmos and the beards of hairy animals wave freely in the gaseous envelope in which we and they float as we highball around the sun. This is the sorcery of life in its rutting, elemental source-design. This is the rhythmic magic of birth and rot and the constant burning muddy indigestion of the cosmic super-imposition of life on life on life, all grown into a heap and dying while aborning, corpses and genes well mixed in a great stew of fertility and reproduction and decay.

Life grows apace in lands where men still know the joys of being eaten alive by other men and/or by small fishes in furious clusters. Life jumps and bounds along rivers that dump indiscriminate cargoes of matter and debris into deep green seas, oceans that swallow whole subcontinents as glibly, blithely as the alligator gorges on its young, seas that reach from subtropic to subarctic and balance at once the breathless reaches of the armpit regions with the frigidity of the poles. The Aurora flips and flows on top of the world, aching across the empty void like a great tautened tongue, magnetic and muscular in its wild energy, kissing the whole world.

In old jungles strange ache-hungry birds watch from trees that wilt and hang. Small loin-clothed men step brittly through overgrown verdure. Natural boleros sound in the teeth of giant crocodiles crunching the bones of careless waterfowl, while in the grass banks, the lice violate in aimless joy the matted fur of some dead, cold, warm-blooded species.

SABU ...

...has heard all this and much more. The rhythmic cadences of nature's boiler room are here, the aural history of the sex life of a cosmic corn popper, the wail and chime and gong sound of the eternal SORCERY.


That's some serious sleeve-writing, fellows, and it only barely overstates the Godly Power and Earthly Horror of this record's Exotic Delights and Monster Jazz. I highly recommend reading it, by the way. I know a lot of you impatient scamps probably skipped it, but it is not be skipped.

Consider these sounds infinitely essential.

SORCERY! 320