Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sound Box of Dreams: Janko Nilovic - Percussions Dans L'Espace (197?)

Hello.  Sorry I've been away so long.  Oh, how I've been busy.  Indeed, I've just returned not long ago from expedition to Bali.  I've also been preparing to start up a radio show on WFMU's own phenomenal Give the Drummer Radio (set to commence in mid-January, more details to come).  So, once again, let me explain my absence as one due to activity rather than inertia, and please accept my pledge that there is much more activity to come from the shadowy offices of Flash Strap.

Let's just get back into the swing of things with something so good, I don't really have to say much about it.  Janko Nilovic, Montenegrin master,  is another of those prolific Library wizards beloved by collectors of the stuff, one of the biggest names out there.  I've never been the biggest fan, actually; the first few albums of his that I had heard weren't my cup of tea (as is the case with nearly all his cohort, Nilovic is necessarily stylistically all over the place, and can be hit-and-miss as a result).  This rather unfortunate introduction temporarily obscured for me the wonders of a truly magical artist, and one of the major turning points in my opinion was this marvelous Montparnasse 2000 LP, likely dating to the '73-75 period, Percussions Dans L'Espace.

It is rarely the case, and thus always worth mentioning, when a Library album is "all killer no filler," so to speak.  This is one such album.  Throughout, there is a strong interplay between outrageously satisfying, fat-sounding, bold drums and the more delicate, haunting percussions of vibes, xylophone, and piano, highlighted with chimes, gongs, and nature sounds.  It's an aesthetic that Nilovic excels in, and the whole album comes off as well-realized, cohesive, atmospherically engrossing, and eminently re-listenable.

It's also pretty exotic.  This is clear in tracks like "African Dream" and "L'Ocean" (both just monstrously good selections) but manifests more subtly throughout.  Just the use of percussive contrast in the instrumentation is reminiscent of the formal elements of the Exotica approach; throw in the sea and jungle sounds, exotic percussive accents, shadowy echo effects, Ballet Russes-esque Eastern European elements, vibraphone-jazz, and general nature-documentary vibe, and the album almost functions as a stealth Library-Exotica piece.  Perfect examples of this vague but indelible effect can be heard on  two of the LP's major highlights, the dreamy, enigmatic "Sound Box" and the enveloping safari of "Flock."

The only dud on here is "Free Combination", but that's more due to the imperfection of the rip than the music itself (though, either way I suspect it would have been the lower point of the record).  It is more than pulled out of the mire by the following track, however, the arresting "Ballet Dans Le Cosmos."  If you do have a superior rip, please consider sharing.  This one came to us through the overwhelming, wonderful, Maio Library.

Ok.  Enjoy.  More to come, I assure you.

Percussions Dans L'Espace (256)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dreams in the Wind: J.P. Decerf- Magical Ring, Out of the Way, Publipot (1977)

The the deeper you venture into the disorienting world Library music, the more you start to recognize particular names beginning to emerge from the vague mists of anonymity, pseudonymity, and mystery.  Jean-Pierre Decerf is one such figure whose name begins to call attention to itself through repetition and excellence.  Once his name is in your head as "one to look out for," his ouvre reveals a pattern of distinguished and sublime works.  Some of the best music in the Library canon belongs to Decerf, but despite this, I confess I know very little of the man; but such is often the case with these subterranean wizards, these luminaries without awards, these marvelous librarians.

Today we'll have a look at some of Decerf's better LPs, starting with the delightful Light Flight/More and More, a Chicago 2000-label Library record credited to "Magical Ring." Somewhat uniquely, Light Flight/More and More seems to adopt a vague impression of a 1970's prog/psych album (hence the fake-ish band name).  Decerf is credited as the composer of all the tracks here, with an additional collaborator or two (from a stable of six total) listed for each one as well.  While it's not exactly a true psych concept album, it actually does pull off something of a cohesive effect, making it one of those special Library efforts that insists on its album-ness (rather than serving as a repository of grab-bag selections for you to sift and pick from), and truly rewards a straight-through listen.   Of course, it helps that all the compositions have Decerf's distinctive stamp, and that they're almost uniformly excellent.

The album opens with the truly unique and odd "Light Flight", a very Decerf-y synthscape with a lumbering Pink Floyd bassline (straight from Meddle, really) and some basic gnarly electric guitar, all ruled over by a deep intoning voice, vampyrically delivering lines like "Yet, in such a brand new discovery, my mind aches... it lingers through the night... the earth and the mysteries of a brand new GALAXY."  This befuddling vocal figure is backed up by Deep Purple-esque rock-harmonizing, painting vague apocalypticisms of "visions of white horses" and other such things (most of which I can't make out at all).  It's a great, almost hilarious, opener; and perhaps not so surprisingly, it's actually a lot better and weirder than most of whatever it's pastiching or drawing its influences from.  One of the greatest pleasures of Library music is the way it seems to present dimension-X versions of fairly conventional music idioms, weird dark mirrors of the familiar.  "Light Flight" sounds like someone shot Uriah Heep through a wormhole and just recorded whatever doppelgangers came back out again.

The next track is "Fire Zone", a very krauty drum machine/ripping guitar duet with an unmistakable "movie music" vibe (quite similar to Irmin Schmidt's Filmmusik).  "Sight on the Sea" follows; an absolute masterpiece in my opinion, one of those truly great Library miniatures that's so arresting, evocative, and compositionally immaculate that it's sort of like gazing into a painting (Caspar Friedrich's foggy seascapes come indelibly to mind).  "Dreams in the Wind" continues the incredibly strong vein begun by "Sight on the Sea", reintroducing the guitar sound while maintaining the enigmatic foggy sound-vistas and aquatic synthesizer burbles.  It doesn't stop there: "Spatial Feeling" is good until it reveals its true purpose of greatness and engages a heart-in-your-throat swelling finale that actually lasts the majority of its runtime (the build-and-repitition of this track reminds me a lot of Sun Araw's repetition-laden avant-psychscapes). "More and More" goes back to that Meddlesome bassline and repeats "Light Flight" as a wonderful instrumental.  "No Words" is actually just so-so, sort of a pastoral whiff... but it sets the stage for one of the greatest single tracks in the whole history of Library.

"Black Safari" is a monster.  A legend, a Jabberwock.  Opening with a deeply artificial sounding collage of animal sounds (they may very well be real animal recordings, they just sound like warped plastic), a devastating drum&drum-machine rhythm skitters onto the scene and then takes off with mechanical determination, with you along for the ride.  Synthesized bird/monkey squalls-and-calls surround you as organ and guitar take turns making the safari increasingly threatening and alien.  This track is an unimaginable treasure, an aesthetic triumph for its genre.  It's followed by "Wakemania", a very enjoyable bit of cinematic organ&guitar psych in manner highly reminiscent of Bo Hansson (though presumably intended as an homage to Rick Wakeman, who was rarely this straightforward or enjoyable, at least when working for himself).  The whole deliriously enjoyable affair comes to an end with a bit of slightly soulful, entirely bizarre, sexy funk-psych in "Touch as Much."  Here, the deep-voiced singer of the opener returns to growl in an Arthur Brown-meets-Isaac Hayes croon: "Touch... as much.  As much as lust... Keep yourself loose... as loose as the wind."

This is one of the best there is.  A Library masterpiece in no uncertain terms, full of psych, synth, exoticism, and all-around greatness.


That same year (1977), Decerf did another LP (in collaboration with Gérard Zajd, at least for all but two tracks) for the CAM label called Out of the Way.  I don't know which came first (I've heard it was this one, in fact, but I can't be sure), but there's substantial overlap between the two.  Out of the Way opens with "Sight on the Sea", followed by "Spatial Feeling", and also features "Dreams on the Wind" and, yes, "Black Safari."  So the deck is stacked in its favor from the get-go, but it's not just another LP with those great tracks on it.  It's essential in its own right, and every track is a winner.  "Make Believe Advance" is another great slab of Hansson-esque psych (it would fit right in on his Lord of the Rings album); "Reaching Infinite" recycles the rhythm from "Black Safari" for a more sci-fi colored iteration and ends up sounding like unusually good video game music, but with a really unexpected, awesome surf guitar; "Funkadelic Again" is another superb drum-machine&psych guitar workout; "Fourth Level" is synth with a glaring spaceship gleam until it's interrupted, as though by Flash Gordon's more earthy Earth-ways, by a gritty guitar solo; and "On the Tenter" and "Static Man" are slightly unhinged little cityscapes, overcaffeinated slices of demented movie music.  It's one of the absolute best LPs in the Library universe.


That very same year, Decerf released another album on CAM (this time with M. Baroty as his collaborator), entitled Publipot.  It is an outrageous, dizzying delight in the same vein as the previous two, and no less great.  Publipot is amazing.

The opening track, "Sea Spell", is another in Decerf's series of seaside sublimities – and one of the very best at that, innocent, nostalgic, and utterly mysterious, with its rolling waves, burbling sound effects, and building harpsichords.  Every other track is a knockout (except perhaps the clownish "Musing on Children", which is still very good).  I won't go over them all, but I'll single out a few: "Gladsome Moments" is another riff on the "Black Safari" structure, a little less distinguished than the other two but still great.   "Phantasm in the Night" is pretty amazing; I don't want to seem unimaginative, but it actually really does sound the way Phantasm looks, at least at the film's best moments – sort of a baroque, other-dimensional horrorscape.  "Brain Project", is about what you'd expect at this point, big synth washes, pastoral seaside evocations, and stubby little organ notes counterpointing long eerie ones.  It's wonderful.

The closer is "Brazilian Ballad", one of my all-time favorite tracks, a transcendent piece where Decerf's compositional and aesthetic tendencies (at their best here) are brilliantly juxtaposed against a weird Brazilian rhythmic structure.  The result is a surprisingly affecting, wistful composition full of beauty and nostalgia and deep undercurrents of melancholy.


Hey, what are your favorite Decerfs?  I'm curious.  Talk to me about it. 

ALSO: I'd like to issue a profound thanks to the original rippers and uploaders and predecessors of any sort.  Thank you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Long-Buried Racial Memory: Alfred Newman and Ken Darby- Ports of Paradise (1960)

The prospect of a big band-style vocal Exotica record is always a dubious one.  The likes of Norman Luboff and dozens of lackluster Hawaiiana LPs have made me wary, at any rate.  The appeal and function of Exotica has a great deal to do with its serving as a more flexible vehicle for fantasy, and so it is better played out in the form of enigmatic instrumentals and soundscapes; on the other hand, a room full of forty white people intoning in church harmonies and literalist language about the beauty of the islands or what have you hardly stirs the romantic in the soul.  The latter method, even at its best, doesn't leave enough room for enigma (unless it's something poetic and visionary like Eden Ahbez, which is a whole different kettle of fish anyway).   

I present to you today a record that I actually like a lot – despite it having these very drawbacks – by Hollywood A-list legends, Alfred Newman and Ken Darby: Ports of Paradise. A deluxe voyage to the South Seas.

This record is full of Hollywood cinematic bombast and saccharine oversaturation; it oughtn't really work as exotica, but somehow, in its best moments, it sort of does.  This must be due to the sterling pedigree of its creators, but you know, it's not as though I sit around listening to Newman and Darby's work on the film scores for South Pacific or The King and I.  Regardless, this LP has its moments of wonder: the bookends in particular ("Ports of Paradise" and "To You Sweetheart, Aloha") have the sweeping ambition of Wizard of Oz and the shabby, overblown Technicolor majesty of a lesser (but still fascinating) film like Journey to the Center of the Earth; with relatively interesting lyrics, to boot.  "The Enchanted Sea" is another particular highlight (you may have heard it on a Jungle Shadows mix), with its dichotomous structure, attempts made at "native" chanting, and brooding arrangement all managing an effectively mystical atmosphere and an exquisite, original interpretation of a common composition.  The similar "Whispering Wind" has a deep sense of ocean-bound longing and evokes a dark night of warm salt breezes and cold stars.

Mavis Rivers, the esteemed Samoan jazz singer, is given two showcases in "Isa Lei" and "My Little Grass Shack"; both vocal performances are very straight-ahead and a little underwhelming in my opinion, but the tracks have intriguing arrangements (the former lush and tinged with darkness, the latter ornamented by swirling strings and an agreeable chanting in the background vocals) and I could imagine them being quite effective in the proper setting.  The rest of the selections are a fairly bland, with the odd exception of "Madonna of the Flowers," featuring a lightly gonzo baritone vocal turn from Bill Lee (doing something like Bing Crosby in Christmas mode) that highlights a bit of Hawaiian-style Catholicism and is both bizarre and a little boring, like the Christmas sequence of Three Caballeros.  You often see, throughout the history of exoticist works of art, a sort of "return" to Western values, particularly religion, after a period of fetishization of the exotic Other; these moments also serve to underscore the value of Western presence in the colonies, demonstrated by the effects of religious proselytizing.  This track is that moment in the album's narrative structure.

This album has more to enjoy than just its songs, however!  Indeed!  It also comes with a "16 page brochure in full color," which I would love to share with you now, one page at a time:

Like many, many Exotica and/or Hawaiiana LPs, Ports of Paradise was part of an overt, synergistic relationship with aspects of the tourism industry.   This strategy is often used to promote specific Hawaiian resorts or package deals offered by travel agencies; in this case, there's some hard-to-pin-down but nonetheless explicit connection to Matson Navigation Company, "whose luxurious passenger liners are regular callers at the Ports of Paradise" (Matson being a shipping company founded in 1882, a major player in Hawaiian popular tourism and the founders of the Moana Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, among many other things, and to which Ken Darby may have been connected by marriage, though I can't quite tell).  The sequence of songs (with regards to their geographic referent) is loosely based on the itinerary of two of Matson's ships at the time, an interesting album structure illustrated on the map above.

Also, a bit of trivia: Darby was the voice of the mayor Munchkinland in the film of Wizard of Oz, as well as the composer of "Love Me Tender", which he actually credited to his wife, a Vera Matson. Is she Vera Matson of the Matson shipping family?  I can't tell.

"The Ports of Paradise... faraway islands in a blue, blue tropical sea... and they are only one step away – from shore to waiting ship.  One step – but with it, you leave one world and enter another.  A bright, beautiful, floating world...." 

Ken Darby's purple prose – most evocative of Michener's blockbuster style, but with just a shade of Conrad in Nigger of the Narcissus mode – sets a literary stage for the songs.  It's all travelogue escapism (so mythicized it resembles the Odyssey, but without conflict) and fuzzy pop-anthropology with a strong emphasis on primitivism and timelessness.

 (I am highlighting certain passages, but you can easily read the rest for yourself if you enlarge the images).

"The land recedes behind your gleaming ship, and before you, in endless moving mystery, lies THE ENCHANTED SEA.  You feel it turn and roll beneath a warming sun.  Upon its vast, turquoise mirror are caught and reflected the faint echoes of Polynesian voices, until, at last, over the cloud-haloed horizon, rises TAHITI, first Port of Paradise.  
Through the twilight air swells a great shout of welcome – awakening in your blood a long-buried racial memory of primitive excitement – and there before you lies your dream, under an unbelievable BLUE TAHITIAN MOON."

Whew! That's just the first section, the first "port."  The rest is just as likely to rip your postcolonial bodice, and as such I highly recommend giving it a read.  Much like Loti, the absolute king of precisely this sort of exotic prose, Darby can't resist peppering his achingly florid scenic passages with problematic ethnological commentary (later, he describes the Fiji Islands as "only 75 years removed from primitive man"); all the better, as it makes for especially rich and revealing reading, and spruces up an otherwise too-sugary exercise in exoticism with some dark, spicy notes of imperialist bullshit.

The next page opens up to these two exquisite images:

The first, a fern grotto in Kauai; the second, a "fern-tree idol" in Oahu.  These two pages fold out to reveal even more imagery and textual delight.  First, a wide-angle view of paradise (a "moonlit" beach scene):

 Followed by a continuation of Darby's liner notes, which wraps up the voyage narrative:


The next spread details the narrative of the album's production, against the backdrop of Newman and Darby's demanding careers as in-demand Hollywood music personalities (composing "Moon of Manakoora" for The Hurricane, working together on all the Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptations, etc.), with special emphasis on the two men's shared affinity for vacationing in Hawaii.  On the left are vacation photos from "the Newman family album."  Newman is described as nearly an honorary Hawaiian; not only did he "win the aid of shy elder Hawaiians," making them "his lifelong friends" ("they gave him their love, and they gave him their islands"), but he also earned himself a Hawaiian name: "Kalani Haaheo (Ken's modesty prohibits translation!)"

"Part of the vast collection of percussion instruments used in this recording" 

Anyway, that's the whole package.  I hope you enjoyed looking at it with me.  Listen to it on your own, let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lyman on Film: Taboo, Taboo Tu, Quiet Village

I'm back.  The show went wonderfully, thanks for asking.  We packed the house and drank all the rum.  Thanks to those among you who attended, you wonderful people. 

I look forward now to getting more posts out in the next few days, but for now, here's a little something delightful to get us back in the game: a pair of Arthur Lyman live television appearances, performing "Taboo" and "Taboo Tu."  It's really astounding to me, watching the Lyman quartet in action, like a perfect little music box of artifice, restraint, and professionalism, conjuring up a flawless aural illusion of the exotic.  Check them out!  (And thanks to Mr. Schulkind for hipping me to the second video!)  Sorry for the links, embedding has been disabled for both videos.


Taboo TU

Oh, and just for kicks and the sheer beauty of it: here's a third video of Lyman playing "Quiet Village" solo on the vibes.  It's pretty much exquisite, I highly recommend it.


More to come, very soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

EXPEDITION: An Evening of Armchair Exoticisms


I'm particularly excited this morning to share this with you all:  Next Thursday, September 4th, at Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn, I will be presenting EXPEDITION, an exotic evening of art and armchair travel.  Come and embark on a journey to the heart of timeless darkness and beyond; embrace the numinous monolith of the exotic immensity.

Check out the event site for all the information you'll need.   Or here is a facebook thing. An event page.  Share it, if that's the thing I want to say.  

Also!  Please watch the exactly delightful trailer below (put together by the incredible Mr. Zev Deans, who also put this whole show together, made the flyer, these gifs, and arranged for there to be tiki drinks in dinosaur cups on the night of the show):


Expedition's program will consist of three parts:

1: Millions of Years Ago: A Primeval Bolero
(Concerning the Origins of Man and the Savage Early Days of the Earth)
For the Edification and Pleasure of the Audience: In Order to Please the Eye and Excite the Imagination

A trio of educational video tapes of stop-motion dinosaurs subjected to extensive re-edits and fitted with a new soundtrack of exotica, library music, and cosmic synthesizers.  Saturating themselves in the exotic fiction and repetitive tropes of the dinosaur narrative as it is so often presented, the videos display: a pseudo-science-fiction fantasy wherein thunder lizards occupy a primeval, godless, and thoroughly exotic landscape of the sublime (an apocalyptic out-of-time zone where human life is horrifically/paradisally nonexistent) and are ultimately martyred so that mammals may live.  Beneath the volcanic, eschatological skies of the First Judgment, the Noble Reptilian Savage necessarily expires, making way for the dominance of the imperial rat.

2: Expedition:

Expedition is a collage book, two years in the making, loosely following an archetypal expedition narrative and its ultimate descent into dissociative breakdown. Employing juxtaposition through the literal and symbolic act of collage, it delves into unapologetic fantasy while offering a sort of critique, explicating a surrealist-ethnographical culture-history of Western exoticism.  Each page has dozens of collaged components, genuine artifacts of authentic exoticist 20th century culture, drawn from a vast collected archive; all of which are detailed (along with their sources and original context) in the book's dense index.  The book will be presented as an analogue slide show (with a soundtrack elaborately comprised of exotica music and field recordings).

 3: Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (Ports of Paradise):

A recut of a 1965 Hollywood recut (entitled Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, with a well-shoehorned-in Basil Rathbone) of a 1962 Soviet science fiction film, Planet of Storms (using also some additional footage from a further 1968 B-picture recut, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women).  The film follows an expedition to Venus, an exotic planet populated with dinosaurs, carnivorous plants, and mysterious native women.  The film is re-edited (in chronological order, but greatly shortened, with redesigned sound) to reveal the classic expedition narrative at its core, with a preference for the sensory over the sensical.  The result is a woozy narrative more in line with dream-state story-telling, surrealist strategies, or the psychedelic logic of midnight movies. 

COME TO THE SHOW! I'LL BE THERE!  WE CAN TALK ABOUT EXOTICA IN THE SAME PHYSICAL PROXIMITY!  WE CAN DRINK FROM DINOSAURIC VESSELS TOGETHER!  If you can't come to the show, and you are reading this from one of the almost infinite locations that are out of reasonable reach of New York, then please do know that your presence will be sorely missed.  Perhaps recommend it to a friend, if you have one in the area.  Or invite me to your town to do the show there!  I'd come, probably!

Last thing before I go: I know I've mentioned this before, but distributable copies of the book are coming soon.  There should be more information before September draws to a close.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 5 – Tropicosmic (Synthesized Exotica and Electro-Primitivism)

Here we go.  Volume 5.  The last in this series, for the time being.  The infinite nature of the library world means that I could conceivably do this whole thing again ten times over, if I had access to every library LP in existence, but for now I have done all I can.  And I'm very excited about this temporarily-terminal installment, as it's the biggest yet, a seething, pulsing 2 and a half hours of cosmic jungle washes and bright plastic synthi-time rituals du sauvage.

This set runs a gamut from sterling electronic avant-garde (of a sort) to some rather more crass (but awesome in its way) e-music material, but they're all part of the same continuum, all speaking the same basic language of exoticism.  In this case, the gulf between the linguistic portal of the track's title and the formal elements of exoticism as evidenced by the music itself is as wide, or wider, than ever.  It's a fascinating thing about synth music: if you title an ambient sequencer-driven track "Neptune," then the listener unavoidably pictures an icy celestial body, imagery on a planetary scale.  If you title that same track "Jungle," then the listener conjures exotic visions of a rainforest, perhaps with a sci-fi/UFOlogical twist, or hot hazy shades of deep antiquity.  Neither experience would be more or less intrinsically authentic or perceptive than the other; you're just responding to the stimulus with which you've been provided—and besides, what does exotica, of all things, have to do with fidelity to fact, tradition, or formal rules, anyway?  If a track says it's exotica, then by gum it sure as hell has to be, doesn't it?

Many of the selections in Tropicosmic do lean particularly, even exclusively, hard on that paratextual tension to achieve their take on exotica.  But it's a spectrum: many others go all in for overt signifiers, classic genre hallmarks, and/or formal tropes of exoticism, all while employing the synthesizer palette to transform, mutate, or update the idiom.  There's all sorts here, even if nearly half of the selections employ the words "jungle" or "Africa" in their title—the most interesting thing is the variations and repetitions of strategies. 

David Toop referred to Exotica (in his book, Exotica) as "fabricated soundscapes in a real world."  He could scarcely have said it better, and it's as applicable a phrase now as ever.  Please enjoy this panorama of the synthesized exotic universe, as I hope you have enjoyed the broader panorama of the library-exotica landscape throughout the run of Bibliothèque Exotique.  I thank you for following along with me on this odyssey.

Tropicosmic: Synthesized Exotica and Electro-Primitivism

1. Kolibri (sunrise in the djungle); (Kuckuck & C. Brull Ltd.: Soundtrack)–Georg Deuter
2. Barimpa (Montparnasse: Interfrequence)–Ariel Kalma
3. Exotique (RCA Media: Robot Bleu)–Roland Bocquet
4. Panama (Coloursound Library: The Now Generation (Percussive Underscores))–Peter Lüdemann & Pit Troja
5. Brazilian Ballad (CAM: Publipot)–J.P. Decerf & M. Baroty
6. Yapaga Cova (Disc Go: GO 1003)–J.C. Pierric ?
7. New Tropical Safari (Montparnasse: Translation)–C. Hauterive & M. Saclays
8. Black Safari (CAM: Out of the Way [with Gérard Zajd, Tony Cerona]; also released on Chicago 2000: Light Flight More and More [as the artist Magical Ring])–J.P. Decerf
9. Black Power (Bota Fogo: The Easy Listening Group Vol.1)–Deschidado & Miniello
10. Slave March (Afrodisia: Black Goddess OST)–Remi Kabaka
11. VoodooTronics (StudioG/Trunk: G-Spots)–James Harpham
12. African War (Cenacolo: Grandangolo)–Amadeo Tommasi
13. African Délirium (CBS: April Orchestra Vol. 48, Présente FR2)–Francis Rimbert & Frederick Rousseau
14. Electronic Africa (TeleMusic: Automation Vol. 2)–Sauveur Mallia
15. African Break (TeleMusic: Percussions Modernes Vol. 1)–Sauveur Mallia
16. Mission Africa (TeleMusic: Music Force)–Swing Family (Sauveur Mallia)
17. Akili Mali (Palm Records: Colours)–Ralf Nowy
18. Tribal Ceremony (Sonimage: Safari)–Jean-Michel Hervé
19. Jungle Lovers (CAM: Construction)–Aldo Tamborrelli & Massimo Ruocco
20. Jungle Juice (De Wolfe: Push Button)–Rubba (Karl Jenkins & Mike Ratledge)
21. Jungle Caravan (Magicabus: Hypnosis)–Yan Tregger
22. Jungle Command (Amphonic: Sound Stage 18- The New World)–Anne Dudley
23. Synthetic Jungle (Sam Fox Productions: Deserted Palace)–Jean Michel Jarre
24. Jungle (Sonimage: Fusion)–Armand Frydman
25. Jungle (Sky: Inventions)–Adelbert Von Deyen & Dieter Schutz
26. Inca (DeWolfe: Stretch)–Simon Park
27. Rain-Forest (Selected Sound: Environment)–Claude Larson
28. Arabian Era (Montparnasse: Sound)–J.P. Decerf
29. Wizard (Montparnasse: Sound)–J.P. Decerf / M. Saclays
30. Oasis (Montparnasse: Interfrequence)–Ariel Kalma
31. Oasis (Cetra: Oasis)–Il Guardiano Del Faro
32. East Looks West (a); (KPM: A Higher State)–Andy Clark
33. Asia (RCA Media: Robot Bleu)–Roland Bocquet
34. Far-Off Lands (Themes International: A New Age)–Rod Argent & Robert Howes
35. Strange Paradise (Musax: Planant)–Gérard Gesina
36. Serengeti (Sonimage: Balance)–Martin Wester & Bernhard Hering
37. Savannah (Selected Sound: Environment)–Claude Larson
38. La Recreation du Kangourou (Disques Magellan: Patchwork Orchestra 5- Cosmic Sounds/China Moods)–Roger Davy
39. Ritmo Pampa (Globevision: I Grès vol. 2)–I Grès
40. Andean's Shepherd (Sonimage: Safari)–Jean-Michel Hervé
41. Sombrero (Montparnasse: Hypothese)–D. Labarre & F. Schnetzer
42. Exotic Guide (TeleMusic: Spatial & Co Vol. 2)–Sauveur Mallia
43. Tropic (Koka Media: Eureka)–Armand Frydman
44. Tropical (PSI: Turbulences)–Joël Fajerman
45. Atoll (Montparnasse: Hypothese)–D. Labarre & F. Schnetzer
46. Pink Island (Selected Sound: Rainbow Sessions)–Mike Moore Company
47. Lagon Tropical (Patchwork: Aquarius)–Pierre Dutour
48. Hymn To A Peaceful Island (Coloursound Library: Into The Wind)–Klaus Weiss
49. Hawaian et Fizz Guitars (CBS: April Orchestra Vol. 31 - Claviers Electroniques)–Caravelli
50. Hawaiiana (Coloursound Library: The PR TV Group - Contemporary Group Vol. 2)–Andre Mikola
51. Sea Holiday (Hawaii); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–Marcello Giombini
52. Treasure Island (Chappell: Atmospheric - Sea/Water)–Gouriet & Phillips


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 4- Musique du "Voo-Doo" (Funk, Grooves, Percussion, Seaside Reverie)

And now I am really, just really excited to present to you, Volume 4: Musique du "Voo-doo."  Folks, these tracks are doozies.  Monstrous grooves, relentless percussion, savage rock workouts, barbaric funk.  Honestly, it's probably too much heaviness for one place, but what can I do?  Pace yourselves.  The last third or so is made up of exotic seaside and leisure tracks, sort of a cool-down from all the voodoo.  Oh, please do enjoy.

Next week I'll be finishing off the series (for now) with an even more mammoth set of cosmic synth and electropop exotica. So "stay tuned," as they say.


1. Jungle Theme No. 3 (Parry Music: Action & Drama)–Don Howard
2. Jungle Theme No. 2 (Parry Music: Action & Drama)–Don Howard
3. Jungle Theme No. 1 (Parry Music: Action & Drama)–Don Howard
4. Wild Trumpet (TeleMusic: Musique En Stock Vol. 2)–Pierre Dutour
5. Africa Semper (TeleMusic: Neo Rythmiques)–Pierre-Alain Dahan & Slim Pezin
6. Safari Love (TeleMusic: Variety One - Maxi Music; composer: Mat Camison)–Résonance
7. Jungle Trompet (TeleMusic: 100% Trompette)–Pierre Dutour
8. Mandingo (Columbia: The Primeval Rhythm Of Life)–Mandingo
9. Tropical Scene (Bosworth: Soft, Sweet And Swing)–Jonny Teupen Group
10. Black Pearl (DeWolfe: Black Pearl)–Alan Parker
11. Violins Safari (Pierson: Velvet Dreams Vol. 2)–J.C. Pierric
12. Tanganika (E.C.A.P.: Top Instrumental Music)–Guy Des Joncs
13. Hula Rock (Bosworth: America '76)–Lew Howard All-Stars
14. Primitive Spirit (TeleMusic: Musique En Vrac)–Raymond Guiot
15. Arachnid (EMI: Savage Rite)–Mandingo
16. The Voodou Ju Ju Drug - Part 1 (Barclay: The Voodou Juju Drug 7")–R. Pultek
17. Grey Pepper (Africadelic In Safari Mood); (Montparnasse: Africadelic's the Name N° 2; with percussion by Black Colored Drums)–Gerard Levecque & Claude Romat
18. Voodoo Ju Ju Obsession, Part 2 (Ju Ju Records: Voodoo Ju Ju Obsession 7")–K. Pythacunthapuserectus (Davy Jones, Janko Nilovic)
19. Bambù (Omni: Niente)–Gruppo D'Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza
20. Zombie (Musique Pour L'Image: Sons Nouveaux Pour Images Contemporaines)–Roger Davy
21. The Voodou Ju Ju Drug - Part 2 (Barclay: The Voodou Juju Drug 7")–R. Pultek
22. Mao Mao (Barclay: Jingle Jungle / Mao Mao 7")–The Starlights
23. Jungle Riders (PSI: African Voodoo)–Manu Dibango
24. Cult (De Wolfe: Afro-Rock; composer: Peter Reno)–Vecchio
25. African Feeling (Montparnasse: Pop Guitar Sketches)–Ike Mathews
26. Bungle in the Jungle (Hoctor Dance Records: Jazz In The Sun With Nilo Toledo)–Nilo Toledo
27. Kuzi-Kuza (TeleMusic: Neo Rythmiques)–Pierre-Alain Dahan & Slim Pezin
28. Route Africaine B (Conroy Library: Background Action)–Sammy Burdson
29. Tribal Warfare (Amphonic Music Ltd.: Smooth Themes - Swinging Percussion)–Jim Lawless
30. Chant Afrique (Bosworth: America '76)–Lew Howard All-Stars
31. Chant of the Virgins (Columbia: The Primeval Rhythm Of Life)–Mandingo
32. Bambù #2 (Omni: Niente)–Gruppo D'Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza
33. Tension In Somalia (Montparnasse: World News)–Cecil Wary
34. Eros In Hiro (Cinevox: Bora Bora)–Piero Piccioni
35. Bora Bora (short version); (Cinevox: Bora Bora)–Piero Piccioni
36. Jamaican Love Song (Jump: Urubamba; composer: O. Rocchi)–Tropicals
37. Black Sand (Vedette: Sea Fantasy)–Armando Sciascia
38. Slow Heat (KPM: Bugaloo in Brazil)–Les Baxter
39. Exotic Flutes (Chappell: Soft and Sweet)–Roger Bourdin
40. Sun, Sand And Surf (Conroy: Modern Mixture)–Sam Sklair & Gus Galbraith
41. Costa Brava (Popular Disc: Delta Sound Vol. 1)–M. Wichard
42. Merckxicaine (CBS: April Orchestra Vol. 1)–Jean Vallée, Yvon Ouazana
43. Sunny Coast (RCA: Spontaneous)–Alessandro Alessandroni
44. Mind For Sea (Disc GO: GO Vol. 1)–J.C. Pierric
45. L'Océan (Montparnasse: Percussions Dans L'Espace)–Janko Nilovic
46. Sound Box (Montparnasse: Percussions Dans L'Espace)–Janko Nilovic
47. Nostalgic Sea (Vedette: Sea Fantasy)–Armando Sciascia
48. Seashore (60sec., 30sec., 20sec., 10sec.); (William B. Tanner Co.: SPM 162)–William B. Tanner


Monday, July 14, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 3- Orientalism (Japonisme, Chinoiserie, Primitivism, Arabesque)

Ok, here we go: Volume 3: Orientalism.  Opening with an extended sojourn through Southeast Asian timelessness & mysticism, then on to some Chinoiserie and Japonisme, a brief interlude of classic cradle-of-civilization prehistory primitivism, then onto the various Arabesques of Mid-East/North African Orientalism.

Quite often in exotica, I find myself less invested in the sundry Asianisms of the Western exotic imagination.  My purview is decidedly Afro-esque, Pacific/Polynesian, and South American tropicalismo.  Because of this bias, I worried that this collection would be less interesting than the others.  I worried so.  I needn't have–these compositions are amazing, and this collection has ended up being a real favorite of mine.  I am invigorated anew in appreciation of the fevered Orientalist imagination.  Below you'll find the tracklist:

1. Oriental Mystique (Parry Music Ltd.: Around the World Vol. 3)–Harry Forbes
2. Forest Song (Thailand); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–Marcello Giombini
3. Asiatic Dream (TeleMusic: Electro Sounds Vol. 2)–Bernard Estardy
4. Oriente Contemplativo (Prima: Oriente Oggi)–Rino De Filippi
5. Shan (Edipan: La Muraglia Asiatica)–Bruno Nicolai
6. Aka (Edipan: La Muraglia Asiatica)–Bruno Nicolai
7. Oriente Magico (Prima: Oriente Oggi)–Rino De Filippi
8. Samurai (Penta Flowers/Gemini Music Library: Alpha Percussion)–Giovanni Cristiani (with M. E. Tozzi & Helmut Laberer)
9. Hanoi, The Pearl (Vietnam); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–Marcello Giombini
10. Ciam (Edipan: La Muraglia Asiatica)–Bruno Nicolai
11. Garuda (Bruton: East Meets West)–Orlando Kimber/John Keliehor
12. Pagode Illuminee (Disques Magellan: Patchwork Orchestra 5- Cosmic Sounds/China Moods)–Roger Davy
13. Hong Kong Song (Auvidis: Alchimie Floue)–Philippe Feret
14. Le Quartier de Wanchai (Disques Magellan: Patchwork Orchestra 5- Cosmic Sounds/China Moods)–Roger Davy
15. Dans les Rues de Shanghai (Disques Magellan: Patchwork Orchestra 5- Cosmic Sounds/China Moods)–Roger Davy
16. Trasparenza Orientale (Prima: Oriente Oggi)–Rino De Filippi
17. Singapore Girl (Happy Records: Jürgen Franke And The Pop Flutes ‎– Pipers)–Nick Frazer
18. The Lights of Hong Kong (Apollo Sound: Colours in Rhythm Vol. 8; composer: J. Gyulai-Gaal)–Budapest Radio Orchestra
19. Kyoto Gardens (Bruton: East Meets West)–Orlando Kimber/John Keliehor
20. Lullaby Of India (Chappell: Dance & Mood Music Vol. 10)–Tony Seattle
21. Eastern Ritual (Bosworth: International Potpourri)–The International Orchestra/Peter Sander
22. Indian Cobra (Jump: Urubamba; composer: G. Barigozzi)–Tropicals
23. Procession In Lhasa (Tibet); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–Marcello Giombini
24. Eastern Promise (Bosworth: Let's Go Solo / Rock Beat / Drums & Percussion)–Jonny Dean
25. Medio Oriente - Un Deserto In Evoluzione (Iller: Terzo Mondo)–Pelleus & Vivika
26. Primitivo (Edipan: Tempo Sospeso)–Bruno Nicolai
27. Nuraghi (Fly: Looking Around)–Santucci & Scoppa
28. Valle Dei Templi, "Valley of the Temples" (Full Records: Interiezioni)–L. Sordini
29. In Search Of The Past (Musical Touch Sound: Evasion)–Dominique Andre
30. Secret City (Bruton: Explorer)–John Cameron
31. Rediscovered Temples (Sonoton: Scenic Sequences)–Claude Larson
32. Fairy Tale (Coloursound Library: Contemporary Pastoral and Ethnic Sounds)–Joel Vandroogenbroeck & W. Rockman
33. Gondwana (Coloursound Library: Lost Continents)–Joel Vandroogenbroeck
34. Homo Africanus (Coloursound Library: Birth of Earth)–Joel Vandroogenbroeck & S. Burdson
35. Migrations Mu (Coloursound Library: Lost Continents)–Joel Vandroogenbroeck
36. Arabian Synthetyzer (Omicron: Synthi Time)–Piero Umiliani
37. Turkish Delight (Bosworth/Trunk: Super Sounds of Bosworth)–The Ebbinghouse Sound
38. Arabiana (E.C.A.P.: Top Instrumental Music)–Guy Des Joncs
39. Notte A Bagdad (RCA Italiana: Style)–Gianni Oddi
40. Ahmedabab Theme (Chappell: Dance & Mood Music Vol. 6)–Jean-Claude Petit Et Son Orchestre
41. Islam Blues (Telemusic: Continental Pop Sound)–Pierre-Alain Dahan
42. Travel Turkey (Capitol: Media music release n°1-Travel the World)–Ib Glindemann
43. Maghreb (Mondiophone: Music Around The World Vol. 1)–Georges Teperino
44. Arabia (Strange fanfare leading into bizar scene); (Kuckuck & C. Brull Ltd.: Soundtrack)–Georg Deuter
45. Tensione in Medio Oriente (Le Monde: Videomusic No.1)–Peymont
46. Far Out East (Parry Music Ltd.: Around the World Vol. 3)–Frances Ruffino
47. Maharadjah Adventures (Charles Talar Records: Space Dream)–Flash Resonance (Alan Feanch)
48. The Eastern Question (CAM: Habitat)–The Fine Machine
49. Arabian Valley (Patchwork: Flutissimo)–Teddy Lasry


Monday, July 7, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 2- Jungle-Safari-Wildlife

I'm super pleased on this day to present volume two in my bibliothèque quest.  This one is probably my favorite, all avant-film-jazz and classic library synths, a weird plunge into the heart of jungle darkness, native ritual, safari scenes, and wildlife encounter.

Stay tuned for the next three: Orientalism and primitivism/prehistory; super heavy jungle grooves and seaside paradise; and exotic e-music and electropop, respectively.  Volumes 3&4 next week, and #5 the week after.  If you're interested, that is.

Here's the tracklist:

1. Safari (Fonit: C 264 Caratteristici)–Mario Migliardi
2. Jungly (Musical Touch Sound: Evasion)–Dominique Andre
3. Merry Forest (Montparnasse: Interfrequence)–Ariel Kalma
4. Jungle's Orchestra (CBS: April Orchestra Vol. 47)–Serge Bulot
5. Amazon Trail (Peer International Library: Reggae for Real)–The Ian Langley Group
6. Ballet Vaudou (Mondiophone/Crea Sound: 7 Drums Concerto; with Nino Nardini)–Camille Sauvage
7. Lions Dance (Congo); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–  Marcello Giombini
8. Peruviana (Bota Fogo: The Easy Listening Group Vol.1)–Deschidado & Miniello
9. African Dream (Montparnasse: Percussions Dans L'Espace)–Janko Nilovic
10. Accadde A Bali (Squirrel Records: Accadde A.......)–Arawak
11. Urubamba (Jump: Urubamba; composer: G. Barigozzi)–Tropicals
12. Balimba (Nakara: Nakara Percussions)–S. Olivier Nakara Percussions
13. Pygmelium (Musical Touch Sound: Evasion)–Dominique Andre
14. Flute Safari (Jump: Urubamba; composer: Chiarosi)–Tropicals
15. Africa - Dalla Rhodesia Al Festival Di Dakar (Iller: Terzo Mondo)–Pelleus & Vivika
16. Savage Trumpet (Telemusic: Musique En Stock Vol. 2)–Pierre Dutour
17. Jungle Soul (Chappell: Dance & Mood Music Vol. 6)–Jean-Claude Petit Et Son Orchestre
18. Strange Journey Pt. 2 (Chappell: LPC 1049)–Johnny Hawksworth
19. Bali (Omni: Niente)–Gruppo D'Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza 
20. Amazon River (Jump: Urubamba; composer: O. Rocchi)–Tropicals
21. Amazônia (Aguamanda: Magia Erotica)–Hareton Salvanini
22. Ode to an African Violet (Homewood: Plantasia)–Mort Garson
23. Savana Melody (L'Illustration Musicale: The Strange World Of Bernard Fevre)–Bernard Fevre
24. Zèbres Observés, "Zebras Observed" (Musax: Animaux 2)–D. Verdan
25. Night At The Waterhole (Conroy: Modern Mixture)–Sam Sklair & Gus Galbraith
26. Sahara Sunrise (KPM: Afro Rock)–John Cameron
27. Lucky Dance (Australia); (Forever Records: Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa))–Marcello Giombini
28. Etranges Autruches, "Strange Ostriches" (Musax: Animaux 2)–D. Verdan
29. Desert Ritual (Standard Music Library: Activity/Travel/Dramatic)–John Sangster
30. Swamp (De Wolfe: The Art of Synthesizer)–Sam Spence
31. On The Way To The Jungle (Musical Touch Sound: Evasion)–Dominique Andre
32. Guerriglia Nella Giungla, "Guerilla in the Jungle" (Le Monde: Videomusic No.1)–Peymont
33. Jungla (TRY Records: Drugstore)–Tony Iglio
34. Garo (Edipan: La Muraglia Asiatica)–Bruno Nicolai
35. Sick Chick (Music Scene: Jungle Birds)–Franco Godi
36. Flock (Montparnasse: Percussions Dans L'Espace)–Janko Nilovic
37. Jeux des Lémuriens Gais "Games of the Gay Lemurs" (Musax: Animaux 2)–D. Verdan
38. Hunting Birds (Music Scene: Jungle Birds)–Chiarosi
39. Les Oiseaux Exotiques (Montparnasse: Un Homme Dans L'Espace)–Janko Nilovic
40. Snaky (Musical Touch Sound: Evasion)–Dominique Andre
41. Cobra (Shepherds Bush Library Music: The Sound Gallery)–Stephane Gremaud, Fabien Chevallier, Jean Claude Deblais
42. Music to Soothe the Savage Snake Plant (Homewood: Plantasia)–Mort Garson
43. Bird (L'Illustration Musicale: Strictly Rhythmical / Rhythmical Melodies)–Eddie Warner
44. Pachydermes & Cie (TeleMusic: Retrospectives)–Hervé Roy & Pierre Bachelet
45. Jungle Theme (William B. Tanner Co.: SPM 162)–William B. Tanner
46. Animal Chase (Bruton: Wildlife)–Nigel Shipway
47. Mysterious Bali (Coloursound: Contemporary Pastoral and Ethnic Sounds)–Joel Vandroogenbroeck & F. Voelxen
48. Tiger in the Night (Columbia: The Primeval Rhythm Of Life)–Mandingo
49. Fuga Degli Indigeni, "Escape of the Natives" (Le Monde: Videomusic No.1)–Peymont
50. African's Woods (Montparnasse: World News)–Cecil Wary
51. Intact Nature (Sonoton: Biology)–Walt Rockman


As usual, I've hotlinked several of the tracks, particularly when said tracks were sourced from Boxes of Toys.  Please check the links out and give Gianni a thanks.  I have not done the same for another major resource, Maio's library, partly because he is not the original ripper of anything (merely a noble curator, like myself, and thus less in need of particularized credit), and partly because it would be exhausting.  It's a big collection, and you should check it out and give thanks.  Other major sources make it a habit to remain obscure, but let it be known I am grateful to them.

ALSO: Mr. Schulkind of the truly superb radio program, Give the Drummer Some on WFMU, will be playing a passel of selections tonight at 6-7 pm (Eastern Time).  Give it a listen, live if you're in the area, or streaming here.  He previously played a generous grouping of selections from the previous volume on his entirely excellent July 4th show, which is archived and can be listened to here.  I don't have to tell you guys, but Doug runs a consistently great program, give him a holler if you enjoy the show.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Art That I Made & Music to Hear: Weller- Weller, I (2014)

Over the past year, I have had the great pleasure of conferring and conspiring with my old friend Nathan Toben on his new musical endeavor, Weller-- mainly I have supplied the album art and packaging (which developed out of long and elaborate creative conversations), but also the occasional note, oblique strategy, or basic sounding-board service.  I also recently created a music video for one of the tracks.

The album, Weller I, is a lovely work of esoteric pop obsessiveness in a grand tradition of auterist cult records, outsider or loner pop, and idiosyncratic psychedelia.  I recommend it.  Check it out, it dropped officially earlier this week.  If you buy a physical copy of the album, you'll have the added benefit of my artwork resting in your hot little hands.

Official site


Watch the video:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 1, Panorama of the Exotic World

For some time now, I've been working on an ambitious project, collecting from the near-infinite pool of Library music every example of exoticism I can find.  The goal is not only to put together a listening experience that should be a blast, but also to assemble a fascinating portrait of exoticism and "otherness" as it has been conceived in musical terms by (largely) Western, mostly European artists in a versatile idiom that stretches from the 60's to the 80's; to display the repetition and evolution of themes, recurring motifs, and occasional visionary breaks from convention, and study them.  Particularly of interest to me is the way in which the exotic paratext of the piece's title can suggest exoticism when the content of the music itself otherwise may not have.  To put Africa or jungle in the title is potentially just as effective as including field recordings or "ethnic" percussion-- indeed, it is these sundry strategies of intimating exoticism, rather than employing any consistent study of ethnic music forms, that defines exotica as a general conceptual idiom in all its iterations.  This series will cover the broadest possible range of exotic strategies and subjects employed by library composers (and some soundtracks) over a period of three decades.

I want to point out that the series will exclude some of the most foundational composers of library exotica, as I've covered them thoroughly in the past: Roger Roger and Nino Nardini (whose essential Jungle Obsession should already be known to you all, and for whom I've already assempled a comp-- which I may follow up with a second volume soon), Piero Umiliani (who I've also treated to a double-comp), and Sven Libaek (who is his own universe anyway).

Having put together hours and hours of material, and compiling the best of it, I present to you today the first in the series: Bibliothèque Exotique Volume 1: Panorama of the Exotic World.  This volume is focused mainly, though not exclusively, on earlier works, and leans toward a sound more in line with classic Exotica.  It begins with expedition and jungle motifs, reaches back into prehistory, explores a smattering of exotic locales, doglegs through the Orient for some classic Orientalism, the finishes out in an extended stay in paradise and tropical leisure.  Here's the tracklist. Each track title is followed by the Label and LP of origin-- I've done my level best to get all the info, including the actual and often elusive artist names, correct:

1. Jungle Paths (De Wolfe: T.V. Suite No.2)–Peter Reno
2. The Lost World (De Wolfe: Polaris)–Peter Reno
3. Jungle Song (Chappell: Telecineradio Vol. 1)–Paul Bonneau
4. Tropical Forest (Chappell: Telecineradio Vol. 6)–Paul Bonneau
5. Label Sauvage (Montparnasse: Puzzle)–Eric Framond
6. Alien Lands (Golden Ring: Sound Music Album 2)–Peter Thomas
7. African Landscape (DeWolfe: 78")–Hugo De Groot
8. Jungle Campfire alt. Version (De Wolfe: T.V. Suite No.2)–Peter Reno
9. Sea Spray (De Wolfe: T.V. Suite No.2)–Peter Reno
10. Darkness (De Wolfe: Eye For An Eye)–Jack Trombey
11. Blue Shadow (DeWolfe: Black Pearl)–Alan Parker
12. African Moon (Chappell: LPC 613-619)–Robert Stoltz
13. Down River (Sonoton: A Musical Wildlife Vol. 1-Pastoral)–Otto Sieben/Mac Prindy
14. Africa Speaks (Conroy: Modern Mixture)–Sam Sklair & Gus Galbraith
15. River Crossing (Sonoton: A Musical Wildlife Vol. 1-Pastoral)–Otto Sieben/Mac Prindy
16. Jungle Expedition (Sonoton: Unusual Sounds Vol. 1)–Augustyn Bloch
17. Pagan Ritual (Bruton: Wildlife)–Nigel Shipway
18. Noces De L'Eau Et Du Feu (Disques A Charlin: Les Cyclopes)–Patrice Sciortino
19. Pagoda (Fonit: C 264 Caratteristici)–Mario Migliardi
20. Reflets D'indonésie (Montparnasse:  Musique Pour... Journal Parlé Et Télévisé)–Daniel J. White
21. The Statues Of Eastern Island (De Wolfe: Musical Prisms)–Spencer Nakin
22. Reflets D'afrique (Montparnasse: Musique Pour... Journal Parlé Et Télévisé)–Daniel J. White
23. Wayang (Parry: Around the World Vol. 4)–Serama Oka
24. Ruines De Machu Pichu (Impala: Ambiance)–Daniel J. White
25. Gamelan Theme nº3 (Parry: Around the World Vol. 4)–Serama Oka
26. The Pavillion of Nefertiti (Boosey & Hawkes: National)–Monia Liter
27. Burma Road (DeWolfe: 78")–Hugo De Groot
28. Lhasa Boy (Conroy: Anytime Anyplace Anywhere)–Georges Teperino
29. Call At Malaga (Chappell: Telecineradio Vol. 1)–Paul Bonneau
30. Samouri (Conroy: BMLP 006)–O. D'Andrea
31. Music From Hoang Ho (Chappell: Dance & Mood Music Vol. 10)–Sammy McWilliams
32. Solitude Tag (De Wolfe: T.V. Suite No.2)–Peter Reno
33. Extase (Chappell: Telecineradio Vol. 12)–Paul Bonneau
34. Tropicano (De Wolfe: Polaris)–Peter Reno
35. Tropic Night (Chappell: Mood Music Vol. 8)–Robert Farnon
36. Exotica (Chappell: LPC 1047)–Roger Webb
37. Silver Sand (KPM: Bugaloo in Brazil)–Les Baxter
38. Bahia Bossa Nova (TeleMusic: Vibraphones)–Bernard Lubat
39. Tropicana (KPM: Amusement)–John Scott
40. Tropical Green (KPM: Brazilian Suite)–Rogerio Duprat
41. Tropical Fashion (Conroy: Panoramic Strings-Soft Sounds)–Walt Rockman
42. Blue Pacific (De Wolfe: Blue Pacific)–Peter Reno
43. Sun-Kissed (Chappell: LPC 1047)–Roger Webb
44. Swaying Palms (DeWolfe: Bossalena)–Keith Papworth
45. Bahama Midnight (Golden Ring: Charming)–Fred Forster
46. Orchidées De Brasilia (Impala: Ambiance)–Daniel J. White
47. Costa Brava (Chappell: Mood Music Vol. 8)–Philip Buchel
48. Palm Beach (De Wolfe: Blue Pacific)–Peter Reno
49. Voyage (Delta Sound: Voices in Latin)–Joe Romis
50. March Exotic (Chappell: LPC 529-534)–Arnold Steck
51. Tropical Flutes (Parry: Themes & Jingles Vol. 2)–Adams, Browne

Huge gratitude is owed to the many librarians out there who helped me (knowingly and unknowingly) compile such exquisite treasures.  Durango, Greta, Maio, Basso, Retronic, Killa, 4th Assassin, Gianni (many of whose shares are generally kept beyond the Boxes of Toys paywall, and who has been gracious enough to allow their use in this project, with his blessing -- those tracks are/will be hotlinked, so please follow through and pay him a visit and a thanks), and all the many others.  Thank you all.


Volume 2 will come next week.  It will be more along the lines of library weirdness, more synths, grooves, and minimalism, and on the theme of jungle, safari, and wildlife/native encounter.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Some Opals for your Coffers: Sonny Silver- Midnight in Kenya; Gianni Safred- Electronic Designs

I've got some hopefully exciting new things for you all in the next week or two, but in the meantime I wanted to link to a couple things that have really been pleasing my speakers recently.  The first is this gritty & sweaty African-esque French surf-jazz EP (with a bit of twist, as in "the twist"), found over at the supremely enjoyable swingaconga blog (inactive since 2012, but new to me and a pleasure to sift through).  The proprietor generally favors a one-track-only manner of sharing, but in this case the full EP is available.  Check it out, but stick around to scope the rest of the treasures in the garden.


The second won't be news to any of you who follow Boxes of Toys, but I really want to highlight it right now because it is quite possibly my favorite library outing of all time (and also because Music Scene LPs, while often quite excellent, could not be less appealing in their uniform covers, and you may have skipped past this one without giving it a second thought): Gianni Safred and His Electronic Instruments: Electronic Designs (shared by Greta).  Sometimes I just cannot stop playing this thing, back to back.  All killer no filler, as they say, and weird all down the line.

Gianni Safred only made three records, to my knowledge (the other being the awesome, but not this awesome, Futuribile), and he has this subtly unique sensibility that thrills me, with these electrifying little runs on the synths/keys and really evocative melodies like sloooow sambas from the icy core of the moon, or Vince Guaraldi if he were really brilliantly stoned and sessioning at Umiliani's Sound Work Shop.  It hardly gets better than this.  Masterpiece.

Electronic Designs

Friday, June 13, 2014

Flash Strap Presents: Jungle Shadows Vol. 5

Let's take this summer seriously with a new Jungle Shadows mix.  Please enjoy, and don't forget to grab both parts.  Put this on and head straight for the adventure like a cannonball; alternately, have an exquisite glass of ice tea and bliss out in the sun.  My best to you during this time.

1. To The Adventure- Guido & Maurizio De'Angelis
2. Jungle Talk- Bob Chance
3. Mecca- Gene Pitney
4. The Slummer The Slum- The "5" Royales
5. Shadows Breaking Over My Head- Left Banke
6. Deep Shadows- Little Ann
7. Crazy Lazy- Spike
8. Sunken Ship 2- Sam Spence
9. Island Feelin/African Blood (Control Car Style)- Supermax
10. Mozart En Afrique- Michel Magne
11. African Sleigh Ride- Vince Guaraldi
12. Watusi- John McFarland
13. Bert's Blues- Donovan
14. Yep Roc Heresay- Slim Gaillard
15. Egyptian Shumba- The Tammys
16. Le Fantome de Saint-Estev- C. Lara, J. Musy

1. Aquarium (with The Esso Trinidad Steel Band)- Van Dyke Parks
2. Atlantis- Sergio Ferraresi
3. Little Bird- Beach Boys
4. Lord, What a Morning- Les Baxter
5. Luna Rosa (Blushing Moon)- Norrie Paramor & His Orchestra
6. Jungle Concert- Xavier Cugat
7. Jungle Dream- Los Índios Tabajaras
8. Rain-Forest Rag- John Sangster
9. Mirage- Heinz von Moisy
10. Part II (Sex Power)- Vangelis
11. Bodo- Mammane Sani et son Orgue
12. Elastic Points- Gianni Safred And His Electronic Instruments
13. Baia- Ferrante & Teicher
14. Nightingale- Jimmy Namaro
15. The Night Of The Purple Moon- Sun Ra
16. There Was a Time- Donovan
17. Fidel Castro- Belita Palma
18. Les Marquises- Jacques Brel
19. E_S_Rever- Spike


This is the final chapter of the Jungle Shadows series.  Whatever shall follow will do so under a new name and with a different (but likely rather similar) purpose.

Up next: the previously-advertised series of exoticist library works, Bibliothèque Exotique.  Thanks for sending in your choice tracks, those of you that did (you know who you are, you splendid birds). 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Esperanto of Pangaea: Flamingods Tour 2014

I've just made a tour poster for UK/Bahrain exotic experimental group Flamingods.  Check out their new video for the track "Hyperborea," from the album Hyperborea (which you can listen to/purchase here):

If you're in the area, check out their tour dates here (where there is also a lovely collection of visual exoticisms), or on the more informative tour poster below. 

New Jungle Shadows mix coming later in the week.  Please stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Panoramic Library: Bruno Nicolai- La Muraglia Asiatica (1975)

Of all the exotic library LPs, this is one of the absolute best.  I came across this one a couple years or so ago, dropped in a forum by Little Danny of the absolutely superlative, indispensable Office Naps.  I immediately felt the urge to do a post on it but didn't want to step on any toes, as I had never seen it anywhere else... recently, however, this little beauty turned up at Maio's bounteous library, so I figure the cat's out of the bag and I ought to herald it in my own way.

I've only heard a handful of Edipan releases-- and quite a few more things from Nicolai-- and they are all good-to-great, but of the lot of them this is a rare and majestic thing of wonder.  Library records are at their absolute coolest when they're in this exotic mode because they offer a different take on familiar Exotica strategies or panoramic or dioramic geographic tone-poetry.  Nicolai paints a portrait of Asia as a primal place of mystery, largely eschewing the brash ching-chong "Oriental melody" approach of so many other "Asian"/Orientalist compositions common to Western Exotica and Library albums.  Or perhaps he doesn't forgo that method so much as he just slows it all down considerably, lending the music a mythical, magical air, evoking Asia as a land of dark forests and dense bamboo, teeming with flashes of the unknown and unknowable, full of menace and wonder.  There's no Hong Kong Street here, no bustling Orientalist metropoli, no Far East industriousness.  Only timelessness, languid disorientation, opium dreams, night woods and drifting down dark rivers.  It's very Southeast Asian, at least as filtered through a European (perhaps particularly post-colonial French, though Nicolai is of course Italian) sensibility.  Sort of a cross between Emmanuelle and Apocalypse Now

One of the great pleasures I experience in life is the discovery of various European, particularly in the library or soundtrack vein, Exotica records.  The sensibility, history, and aesthetic is significantly different; this fascinates and delights.  Of that sort, this is one of the best.

La Muraglia Asiatica (320)

Another truly sublime record of this ilk, Marcello Giombini's Mondial Folk Synthesizer III (Estremo Oriente-Africa) takes a similar panoramic approach to Southeast Asia, as well as Africa and the Pacific.  It's also similarly mystical and spare, but unlike the lush minimalism of Nicolai's album (throbbing with the life of percussive resonance and interjections of what seems to be harpsichord), Giombini's is a truly spartan synthesizer-driven affair (not unlike some of Umiliani's similarly-themed work).  It's utterly bizarre, addictive, and alienating; so highly recommended I can scarcely express my enthusiasm for it.  It can be obtained over at the splendid Boxes of Toys, for the completely-worth-it price of a donation.  You won't regret it.  Follow the link below.

Mondial Folk Synthesizer III 

Not all the exotic wonder of the library music world is so identifiably cloistered in these themed albums; quite often there's a track here or there just buried on a "Drama" or "Industry" LP, or simply one winner in a patch of losers.  I've been obsessively collecting these tracks as well.  I now have five or six hours' worth of exotic library tracks, and I'm in the process of compiling and collating them for a series of mixes (in the same vein as my previous Obsession Exotique/Ossessione Esotico mixes).  Expect those soon-- but let me appeal to this readership and the internet in general: send me your obscure exotic library tracks/LPs for inclusion in this series; safari, jungle, wildlife, orientalism, percussion, travel, synth or orchestral, whatever you got.  Together we can make quite an impressive Biblioteque Exotique.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Over at my website, I'm displaying every page of my book, Expedition.  Please check it out.  It is so exotic.

The online images aren't the most ideal version of the book (it's hard-to-impossible to read the text, or the copious index notes, at this point)but, it's not too shabby either, I hope.  I'm working on solutions by which to make affordable (high quality, extremely readable) physical copies, if there's any interest in such a thing.

If any of you are in St. Louis, a slide show presentation (with audio) will be on display, from May 9 (opening reception) to sometime in August, at the Kemper museum.  Come by if you're also in this city of the damned.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Desire and Plantasy: Mort Garson- Plantasia (1976), Roger Roger- Musique & des Secrets pour enchanter vos Plantes (1978), Joël Fajerman- La Aventura de las Plantas (1982)

Hi.  Sorry I've been gone so long.  I've been... busy.  So busy.  You understand, I trust.

Let me just jump back into the game by highlighting three records which explore a similar theme.  These are sort of old news in terms of the blogosphere, but if you need fresh-breaking scoops then you must know you are in the wrong location.  I'm just trying to talk about what's snatched my fancy at the particular moment.

The theme is plants.  You already knew this.  I started thinking about this last night while playing plant and undersea-oriented synth and library records back-to-back in an attempt to help my perpetually tense and furrowed-browed body-house embrace the life and hope and warmth of this spring as it slowly turns towards the not-so-dreadful.  We must all accept this: winter cannot hurt us now, and some terrible ordeals do eventually end.  The theme is plants, tranquility, life, the sublime mindlessness and exotic beauty of existence as a plant.  Oh, to be a plant: a life without a mind.

There is quite emphatically no better place to start in on this theme than Mort Garson's utter masterpiece, Mother Earth's Plantasia: Warm Earth Music For Plants... And The People Who Love Them.  This is the record of plant music; it's also one of the better Moog albums of all time, soothing, exotic, and melodically exquisite.

"Full, warm, beautiful mood music especially composed to aid in the growing of your plants."
-Back cover notes, Plantasia.

"It has been proven beyond any doubt that harmonic sound waves affect the growth, flowering and seed yield of your plants." - Dr. T.C. Singh, Department of Botany, Annamalai University (India)

Plantasia has a winningly silly conceit -- music composed for both the pleasure of the human listener, and the "actual" botanical effects of playing synth music to your plants, like some gardener from Zardoz.  This pseudo-scientific new-age alchemical supposition only enhances the innocence and otherworldly magic of a record which is already unbelievably strong.  These sort of conceptual tone-poem LPs often delve into cartoonish wackiness and broad attempts to convey the "essential" nature of its various subjects via garish caricature, but Garson wisely chooses to evoke the inner life of plants with dignified mystery and subdued passages of aching beauty, bubbling with texture and pierced with light.  These sun dappled, glowing-green sonic miniatures don't need the titles, or the accompanying booklet, to insist their plant-ness; the sound is unmistakably pulsing with chlorophyll, stretching out in slow motion to soak up the sun as tiny life bustles throughout a hidden world.  Garson pulls off an always-welcome trick: he makes our natural world seem like science fiction, imbues it with a simple alien beauty.  The new age-y goal is achieved, and I have fallen once again in love with the earth.

The compositions are just dynamite, too.  Just check the lightly-pulsating undergrowth safari of "Ode to an African Violet," or the overwhelming sensuality of "Mellow Mood for a Maidenhair" and "Music to Soothe the Savage Snake Plant".  The thing is, it's all so unbearably pleasant, euphoric.  It's like overdosing on Vitamin D.


Next up is a Roger Roger LP.  Roger Roger gets a lot of love in the world of library and synth music, but rarely do I see this, De la Musique & des Secrets pour enchanter vos Plantes (Music & Secrets to delight your plants), receive its due.  It's a minor masterpiece in a career bursting with excellence.  I don't know the full story behind this one, but it seems clear to me that it was inspired by Garson's Plantasia, which came out two years earlier.  Both suggest playing the record to your plants, which is a pretty niche market even in the late seventies (a little more info can be found here, and while I am not upping DJ No Breakfast's rip -- I have another one that I like a bit more -- I did include his booklet scans in the zip, which will likely amuse the French-speaking of you out there). 

This record's only flaw -- and this is true of Plantasia as well -- is that it is agonizingly brief.  It's comprised of two side-long tracks, which seem to flow in and out of compositions -- movements, I guess -- seamlessly.  The first side, "Effluves", is all synth, very much in the vein of Garson's work.  I don't know exactly what equipment is being used here, but it's definitely dominated by that fat Moogy sound and bubbling textural accenting.  In a subtle difference of approach from Garson's (which is more like an Exotica or easy-listening record in many respects) Roger Roger's suite has a more magisterial air, with a hint of baroque pomp and a great deal of Debussy's sense of the moonlit sublime.  This whole side is just an agony of ecstasy, it's so fucking beautiful you'll just have to burn your house down and transform into a giant orchid on your front lawn.

Side two is "Luxuriance", a much more symphonic piece with less in the way of synths.  At first, it's significantly less appealing -- gnashing orchestral strings giving way to a Vivaldi-esque gaudy garden gadabout -- but this shit has its own appeal if you're generous with it and it soon turns to more sensual fare, in keeping with the title Luxuriance.  Synths start popping up, trading notes with a baroque harpsichord.  Following that movement is a section with long lines of menacing synths and darkly exotic ethnic coloring in the form of atonal twanging and hand drums.  It's pretty outstanding.  Then the whole thing goes out on a kind of overblown movie-music section that's not too bad, ending in more gnashing strings.  Perhaps not as good as side one but just fascinating, and occasionally better than almost anything else.


The last is Joël Fajerman's La Aventura de las Plantas, a soundtrack to a French documentary series of the same name.  Of the three, this is of the least enduring interest to me -- it's a bit more predictable Jarre-esque e-music -- but it's quite solid, and has some wonderful moments.  I'm particularly fond of "Ma Forêt," and "Flowers of Love" (something of a hit in its day) is pretty swell. 

In my opinion, the whole thing is a little cold, a little harsh in the wrong ways. I've always respected but never really loved Fajerman's work; I often feel as though I really ought to enjoy what he's doing but something just seems to be missing, there's an emptiness at the core.  Still, e-music is sort of supposed to be cold and synthetic, and Fajerman's no slouch -- what may not be my cup of tea precisely could thoroughly float your boat.