Another odd one from the bosom of Sleepy Lagoon, and another very western take on the inscrutable and mystical Orient. This one (by the much-maligned, often fairly so, Werner Müller), in contrast to the Paris Theater Orchestra, slathers on the exotic instrumentation (koto, shamisen, etc., along with exotica-stalwarts like vibraphone, wordless chorus, and 60's additions such as surf guitar and spy brass) and engages in all variety of reckless experimentation. Add to that, all the compositions are originals, and you have one of those total outlier Exotica LPs. It might not be perfect-- it's not even great, though it's awful close-- but it's just totally unique.
Sometimes its just bonkers (as on the dopey "Chinese Tittle-Tattle") but far more often it achieves a dreamy, transcendent and cinematic air, as on the sort-of Latin-tinged "Moon Over the Pagoda" or the excellent album-opener, "The Banquet," which offers exotica infused with a dose of Italian soundtrack and a killer vocal part. Likewise, the sublime "On the Kyushu Island" mixes the hallucinogenic mysticism of Les Baxter's Sacred Idol work with a kind of wagon-train western sound, a weird act of East/West culture blending that works so well it's sort of hard to believe. The sound, if not the intention, is not unlike Tak Shindo's Far East Goes Western or Edmudo Ros' Bongos from the South, but in this case actually successful (and far far less overt).
This is not a perfect album, and again I wish I had a clearer-sounding rip, but it's very much worth having a listen if you're an Exotica hunter. For a more thorough, and very positive review, check out this post on Ambient Exotica.
EAST OF INDIA (256)