Good Music We Can Know

Explorers Room Radio Library

All the shows and their original descriptions are archived here, from most to least recent.  Click "See the Playlist" to see and hear the episode on the WFMU Explorers Room page.  Or just check out the archives there.

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July 23, 2015: Sugar Life: Beach Trip (with Moebius) | See the playlist

Tonight's Explorers Room began as a Beach Trip themed show, and then, through tragic circumstance, found its end as a tribute to our fallen comrade, Moebius.  Come on the sweet wobbly journey, and regret nothing.

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July 16, 2015: Excavating "Discover America": A Love Affair Between Van Dyke Parks and the Music of the West Indies | See the playlist

A headlong dive into the glorious world of Van Dyke Parks' 1972 masterpiece Discover America, including virtually every song covered on that album in its original version, various other Calypso/Steelband projects in which he was involved, and numerous other examples of the ongoing conversation between American popular culture and the music of the West Indies.  Calypso is both fun to hear and mind-blowing to listen to, and Van Dyke Parks is one of the most clever, brilliant producers and musicians in the history of American recorded music, so this show will be fun.

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July 9, 2015: Vocal Minority: Sounds of American Dissent | See the playlist

Tonight on the Explorers Room: Sounds of American Dissent.  Black power & identity music, the expression of revolutionary values.  Don't miss it.

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July 2, 2015: Bibliothèque Exotique Vol. 5: Tropicosmic - Synthesizer Exotica and Electro-Primitivism | See the playlist

Tune in for part 5 in the series, and embark on a synthsafari of untold weirdness and digital wilderness.

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June 25, 2015: Electronic Dreams and Gardens | See the playlist

Long form and live electronic music; dreams, gardens, and other sonic worlds.

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June 18, 2015: Bibliothèque Exotique Vol. 4: Musique du Voo-Doo (Funk, Grooves, Percussion) | See the playlist

A continuation of the Biblio Exotique series, with this installment drawing from (and as usual, expanding upon) volume 4, which focuses on exotic and Afro grooves, percussion, and funk.
Tune in for the hugest, most pummeling jams of the series; brutalist, psychedelic, funky, and faux-ethno.

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June 11, 2015: Narcrotic Leis... Like a Face Being Eaten by a Jungle (Mike Cooper and the Ripped Fabric of Pacific Diaspora) | See the playlist

Hawaiiana and South Pacific themes, refracted through a distorting crystal.  Along for the ride and setting the mood will be some of Mike Cooper's deconstructed exotica compositions, including some from his new record, Fratello Mare.  Listen along from the comfort of your own best aloha shirt.  Just make sure it's rayon.  You don't want to be caught dead in a polyester.  Not in this heat.

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June 4, 2015: Bibliothèque Exotique Vol. 3: Orientalism (Japonisme/Chinoiserie/Primitivism/Arabesque) | See the playlist

Once again I'll be turning to another volume of Bibliothèque Exotique (This time: Orientalism–Japonisme/Chinoiserie/Primitivism/Arabesque); playing the best selections from that compilation and fleshing its concepts out with additional tracks from the various source records and even more tracks discovered in the interim.

More than ever this last bit is true: Orientalist conceits abound in the musical library world, and so it is inevitable and true that many, many new pearls of sound have been added to the roster.  Tonight's program will be an epic quest across the psychic terrain of every-where in place and time the West has ever thought to be the East, from the far east of SE Asia/China/Japan to North Africa, from bustling metropolitan Pearls of Orient to the timeless shifting dunes and mystic tiger forests.

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May 21, 2015: Bibliothéque Exotique Vol. 2: Jungle-Safari-Wildlife | See the playlist

This episode of Explorers Room will draw from and beyond my own compilation of library selections, Bibliothéque Exotique 2: Jungle-Safari-Wildlife.  Volume 2 is pretty much my favorite of the five, all avant-film-jazz and classic library synths, a weird plunge into the heart of jungle darkness, native ritual and ethnographic hysteria, safari scenes, and wildlife encounter.  Tune in and let's go mad with malaria and exotic displacement.

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May 14, 2015: Outside Time and Beyond Space: An Evening Spent in the Expanse of Tomita | See the playlist
Tonight's program will consist of Isao Tomita's synthesizer renditions of classical compositions, some of the most unusual and sublime music ever recorded.  

"Isao Tomita was nine years old when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. In the years that followed he found himself surrounded by destruction: Half a million men, women, and children–the majority of whom resided in Tomita’s home city of Tokyo–would be killed in air raids or die from starvation.
To know where the bombs would fall next, Tomita and his family would leave the radio on throughout the night tuned to the national military service. One evening toward the end of the war the usual news and propaganda briefly vanished. In its place, through the static, Tomita heard music that would change his life.

Japan had been closed to Western culture throughout Tomita’s childhood. On this night, with U.S. aircraft carriers getting closer, radio crosstalk had caused a trace of Western music to reach Tomita’s ear.

And when Japan surrendered, the strange music proliferated.

“Jazz, pop songs, and classical music was filling the airwaves of Japan” after the war, Tomita recently told Tokyo Weekender. “To me, that music sounded like it was coming from aliens in outer space. That was really what I thought. I thought I was listening to music from outer space. […] I was inspired by those sounds, and this was the catalyst that began the creative spirit within me.”
As a young boy, Western music sounded literally alien to Isao Tomita. So he would spend the majority of his life making Western music sound alien to everyone else."

From Deadelectric's article, Spaceship Japan: An Introduction to Isao Tomita (Part 1)

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May 7, 2015: Bibliothéque Exotique Vol. 1: Panorama of the Exotic World | See the playlist

Following the pretty incredible Field Service Radio, broadcast live by Jesse Kaminsky from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (check that out here, now), tonight's Explorers Room will shine a light on Bibliothéque Exotique Vol. 1: Panorama of the Exotic World

Panorama of the Exotic World is the first part in a 5-volume set of compilations unfurled here, by me, about a year ago.  It focuses mainly on selections with a more classically-exotica oriented sound.  Tonight we'll listen to some of the better selections, some new additions, and new-to-me, obscure-to-most MP2000 Music Scene LP (Panoramic-Exotic) which was mailed to me anonymously.

This will begin a series of programs dedicated to the series.  Every other week will be a new volume of Bibliothéque Exotique.  Next week will likely be an all-Tomita cosmic voyage.

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April 30, 2015: Provocatif and Other Exotic Motifs | See the playlist

An evening of classic, top shelf Exotica (and some other, weirder stuff).  Hear Provocatif and other Exotic Motifs as we embark on a group-hallucination into mind jungles and industrial-grade touristic phantasmagoria.  Masters of the ancient universe await your induction to the absurd ceremony of a false bird god.  The drink of the evening shall be the Jungle Bird, of course:

Jungle Bird (Aviary Bar, Kuala Lumpur Hilton, c. 1978)
3/4 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. sugar syrup
4 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum

See you there, you figments of the imagination!

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April 23, 2015: Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy: An Evening with Donovan | See the playlist

Tonight, my beamish ones, will be a night spent with one of the most splendid musical entities in the history of recorded sound.  An artist so inventive and clever and magical – and underrated, my god – that the mind can scarcely comprehend the majesty of it all.  It's hard to recognize a talent this massive when it's so humble and unassuming, but tonight we will spend an extra-long program wading into the briny bog of Donovan's luminous colours, shadow-jazz, and psychedelic pop.

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April 16, 2015: Jungle Obsession: Roger Roger and Nino Nardini | See the playlist

An evening of exoticism from the peerless Roger Roger and Nino Nardini.  The program will feature selections from their masterwork, Jungle Obsession (of course), many of the selections from my compilation of a few years back, Obsession Exotique, and really quite a bit more.  Indeed, you might even interpret this as a heavily revised, much-improved version of that compilation, albeit in the format of a radio show.

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April 9, 2015: Other Worlds, Other Rooms: New Age Tootscapes | See the playlist

Tune in and dissolve your body into a incorporeal cloud of naked consciousness borne on wings of static signals.  Float the rivers of geologic time, sail the cosmos of the celestial soul.  Voyage through an expanse of particularly thrilling New Age soundscapes, "East of the sun, and west of the moon... Outside time, and beyond space."  As usual, but different.

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April 2, 2015: Music For Plants | See the playlist


An episode all about plant music. Mort Garson's Plantasia, its musical brethren, and more leafy library bits, a green sonic climatron for the benefit of your potted friends and a celebration of Spring as it springs to wondrous dewy life.  You bring your begonia, I'll bring my bromeliad.

I'm serious, by the way.  Get your plants in on this listening party.  Bring them into the room with you.  Or bring the speakers out to the greenhouse like a civilized person.  Tonight is for them, not you – you're just lucky to be here, if you think about it.

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March 26, 2015: Adventurer's Club: Safari | See the playlist

Come sit in with the Adventurer's Club and go on otherworldly safari.  Where the savage bright in the jungle night, and a life for a life is law.

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March 19, 2015: Produced By Norman Whitfield: Psychedelic Soul Masterpieces | See the playlist

An intense exploration of the Psychedelic Soul sound of Temptations and Undisputed Truth producer Norman Whitfield.  Funky, trippy, socially-conscious, obsessive.  Amazing.

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March 12, 2015: La Fete Sauvage, Beautiful and Horrible with Life | See the playlist

Partake in the fete sauvage, and hear sounds that owe nothing to civilization and everything to rank and teeming biology, the wail and chime and gong of eternal sorcery.  From Vangelis to Sabu with wildness abounding.

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February 19, 2015: Bali at the Four Corners of the World | See the playlist

Get washed away into an evening of Gamelan music, Balinese-inspired exoticisms, and Gamelan-influenced classical and synth music.

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February 12, 2015: Voyage: Up Synthetic River | See the playlist
 
Tonight we chart a course up synthetic rivers of electropical phantasmagoria with Willard, Marlow, and Aguirre as our raft-mates on a doomed voyage to the inevitable.

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February 5, 2015: Esotico Ossessione: Piero Umiliani | See the playlist

This program dedicated to the exotic works of Italian library&soundtrack maestro, Piero Umiliani. Selections derived from (and expanded upon) the Esotico Ossessione compilation (in two parts), assembled by yours truly.  A harrowing journey into the mystic depths of the unknown, rewarded with an extended stay in paradise.

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January 29, 2015: Sorcerer-Sounds and Synthetic Jungles | See the playlist

In honor of Edgar Froese's life, Explorers Room will be a deep-Froese marathon session of sorcerer-sounds and electronic exoticisms.  Spiral into the vortex with us!  Bear witness to the birth of the universe in reverse, an electronic penetration!

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January 22, 2015: Touch of Evil, Tamboo, Inherent Vice | See the playlist

Explorers Room tries to find its legs with some film music and contemplation, and of course a great selection of exotica, including some tracks from a brand new acquisition of Les Baxter's Tamboo!, on vinyl, in better shape than any other copy I'd ever seen.

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January 15, 2015: Induction to the Explorers Room | See the playlist

(First show): We will be, more often than not, delving into exotic waters; pack your pipe, pour a drink, and situate yourself in your most powerful armchair.  As I come into your own explorers room, hi-fi den, or inner sanctum from the sanctity of mine, away we shall fly, bound together by sound, deep into the jungles of the mind. 

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