"For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things to be desired are not to be compared unto it. We bring you musical gems from near and far, blended into a pattern of glorious harmony."
~ Opening monologue of Korla Pandit's Adventures In Music television show
Are you still seeking for that magical present for your favorite Auntie Zuki-Neenee? Well, seek no further, for your quest triumphantly ends here! And the gift you ask? The newly-released documentary Korla on DVD!
Directed by folk art lover John Turner and produced by Eric Christensen, this documentary takes you into the mysterious world and history of Korla Pandit (minus Korla's famous "couch-hopping" that's said he did with female fans in his later years...that ol' moochie suave smoothie). The two filmmakers even got August 20th to be officially recognized as Korla Pandit Day with a proclamation from the City of San Francisco back in 2015.
Are you planning your next loincloth-clad romping weekend in the Jungle Rock Room at the Madonna Inn but don't feel you have the right tunes for your portable record player? Are Martin Denny and Eden Ahbez just a tad too mellow for the primitive thoughts you have swirling in your mind? You have Frank Hunter’s White Goddess album already, but you need more raw, mating-ritual music? You need Chaino.
As the story goes, long ago in the Congo, there was a hidden tribe that possessed extraordinary mental and physical powers and could even communicate with the wild animals. Then one day, a nearby jealous and hostile tribe attacked the secret tribe’s village, killing everyone but one little boy named Chaino. Found and saved by a passing missionary, Chaino was brought to the United States to be “educated” and it was discovered that he had percussion talents from beyond this world.
Practicing 17 hours a day, Chaino would soon master 7 drums at a time. Although it was said, that he was quiet and reserved away from his drums, his "savage" beginnings seemed to resurface when he would play his music, allowing his primitive spirit to project through his drums. This, my friends, is the story Omega Records tells you on the back of Chaino’s record.
Lounge lizard brothers and sisters, tiki torch-bearers, and any other Jazz/World/Oldies bin-combers craving an escape from the harsh realities of this cruel world: rejoice! A splash of freshly pressed exotic pu-pus for your easy listening pleasure platters has hit the shelves this Summer, with the quartet of new releases pictured above presenting an especially potent sonic swizzle of hi-fi reverie. So disable your rudder, lose the shoes, stir up a tipple or two and drift into the intoxicating lagoon of these "new" grooves.
V/A - Taboo: An Exploration into the Exotic World of Taboo Vol. 1 (Stag-O-Lee)
The first of a series dubbed Journey To The Centre Of The Song (each volume celebrating a singular tune by exploring a sampling of various recorded versions), this 10" contains nine genre-spanning interpretations of the popular standard "Taboo" (or "Tabou" or "Tabu") composed by Cuban musician Margarita Lecuona, a lady also responsible for the classic "Babalou". From Charles Blackwell's raucous "Surf'stramental" opener to the brassy cha-cha of Tito Rivera, and from the island rhythms of Cyril Diaz to Sylvia Mora's noir popcorn grind, all these and more buttoned up nicely by Arthur Lyman's own sensual evocation, nothing feels forbidden about the magic of examining these songs altogether or individually. In fact, it feels great to have them all in one place.
Well, here we are. We weren't thrust into a new dark age oblivion, the world didn't end and neither did my workaday quest for the best music for the day. This year was rife with records that just had to be snatched -- reissues, compilations, and a fair few newbies too.
Here follows my personal, "show and tell" style best-of list for 2012: the year that didn't stop the big wheel a-turnin'. Rather than just dicing up a list of cold-cut favorites, I've included personal events and trends herein that shaped the music I sought and gravitated towards within the past year.
BEST NEW ALBUM OF THE YEAR:Jessica Pratt - JP. No contest. I have naught but the best of things to say about this disc of spun gold and I'm not alone. It seems every Barry, Rob, and Maurice in the blogosphere has been falling all over this record like autumn leaves in the rain. If you really want to know my take check out my real talk review of JPhere, otherwise please do enjoy the album's opening track, "Night Faces" below.
BEST 2012 REISSUE: It's a tie between two (Numero related) comps: WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronzeand & Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974 - 1984. Both platters piled high with private press oddments and rarities one could hardly go more wrong than to miss out on these two exemplary feats of the compilation arts. The former being a point of revision for many in that it is essentially a mix of largely unheard "yacht rock"/AOR triumphs of seventies song-writing sensibilities (man, is it ever sensibly sensitive) that confronts one's moral definition of guilty (listening) pleasures. The latter comp, Personal Space - a seemingly dark horse among the usual reissue fare fleshing out the the soul comps shelf space, made the rounds among Amoeba staff regularly thus enjoyed a healthy amount of in-store play as well. Chock full of rhythm-box workouts a la Sly Stone, Timmy Thomas and Shuggie Otis, it's a far-out soul/funk excavation of the highest order. Both of these are solid front-to-back listens for the home vinyl library/curio corner.
If there's one thing an appreciation of music micro-genres has taught me it's this: work in a record store long enough and you'll eventually get into everything. Being predisposed to an appreciation of all things nautical by nature and developing a fondness for "theme" restaurants during my formative years it was only a matter of time before I would incur an full-on addiction to Exotica. At first I admit I mostly overlooked the jazz elements inherent to the genre, however pleasantly tropical, but obsession has a funny way of broadening ones taste for the far flung and curiously obscure. While I cannot trace my collection back to one single acquisition I can proclaim without a doubt that this squaw has stalked the warpath for Exotica, in all it's varied and as-yet-unconfirmed aspects, for quite some time. I'm so hot for it I'm on fire and, with that admonition out of the way, I'm pleased to report that a vinyl reissue of Eden Ahbez's seminal contribution to the genre, Eden's Island: The Music of an Enchanted Isle (out on Moi J'Connais/Black Sweat via Mississippi Records), is once again gracing the selections in Amoeba Music's Lounge section at long last!
A beach-bummin' beatnik guru by nature, Eden Ahbez was famous for three things: penning the pop/jazz standard "Nature Boy" (made famous by one Nat King Cole), looking a lot like Jesus (both on the original Eden's Island cover art, circa 1960 above on the left, as well as the updated screen-printed jacket housing the current reissue pictured above right), and thriving on a diet consisting of raw fruit and vegetables, living outdoors with his family beneath the first L of the Hollywood sign in the grassy Los Angeles wilderness. His music is a strange arrangement of piano, flute, and exotic percussion instruments fused with nature sounds (rolling surf, the creak of a wood-masted sailboat, squawking birds, breezy gusts of wind), and features a mixed chorus or Ahbez's own cheesy vocal musings, waxing poetic about a snake-chasing mongoose, living in an old shack by the sea, fires on the beach, and knowing "the thrill of loneliness" -- charming, to the last.