Scripps News, CD Review >>
Tuned In: New music from Cowboy Junkies; Waitiki 7; Snow and Voices
Submitted by SHNS on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 12:28
- By CHUCK CAMPBELL, Scripps Howard News Service
"NEW SOUNDS OF EXOTICA," The Waitiki 7 (Pass Out)
All hail the tiki gods and give praise to exotica.
The sadly overlooked form of escapist music popularized by Martin Denny, Les Baxter and others was a chart fixture half a century ago, just before rock ruined everything. The style was revived in the 1990s under the broader "lounge music" label, but mostly in the form of reissues.
So mahalo (thank you) to the Hawaii-by-way-of-Boston band the Waitiki 7 and its "New Sounds of Exotica," the act's second release from sessions it recorded in 2009. The newer project is tighter than its predecessor, "Adventures in Paradise," and a more beguiling blend of covers and new material that stays true to the pseudo-Oceania atmosphere of heavy percussion and bass, ethereal vibes, jazzy keyboards and, of course, bird calls.
Although the Waitiki 7 does put some "new" in the sound, the release is deferential in its covers of Denny's "When First I Love" (offered with the slow-burning seduction of glowing vibes), "Voodoo Love" (featuring a rustling showdown between drums and percussion) and "Firecracker" (xylophone mania!). Also, Baxter's "Tiki" is crafted with a smoldering blend of sax, bass and piano, and the group even discretely exotica-izes "Bali Ha'i" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific."
Whether deep in the jungle or down by the shore, the Waitiki 7 outfits its sound with modified nuance from convention. For example, although singing in traditional exotica is generally limited to chants and moans, "New Sounds of Exotica" discards vocals altogether (except for the bird calls) and essentially fills the void with Helen Liu's violin.
Perhaps most heartening of all, apart from the inventive cocktail recipes in the insert, are the new songs -- especially the bewitching, brushed-rhythm lullaby "Sweet Pikake Serenade" composed by band leader Randy Wong.
"New Sounds of Exotica" won't change your world, but it'll take you to a better one. Even if it's only a fantasy.
Rating: 4 06/25/10 >> go there