Good Music We Can Know

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.