24 May 2010

Monday's mp3: 21st Century Tiki Lounge

The Waitiki 7: New Sounds of Exotica (Pass Out Records)
From the first track "Bali Ha'i," it's clear that the Waitiki 7 are not your father's (grandfather's? strange old uncle's?) exotica band. The song begins sounding much like a lush old Martin Denny track, with strings, vibes, and flute meandering over a light percussion bed. But 90 seconds in, the tune takes a Latin twist and all the instrumentation is ratcheted up a notch. These guys aren't just going through the motions. And that's not a surprise, since the Waitiki 7 aren't just some exotica cover band. Founder Randy Wong is classically trained, and says he was blown away by the serious musicianship Denny's musicians brought to even the cheesiest compositions. And the groups have more than a musical connection: Waitiki 7 percussionist Lopaka Colon's father Augie played with Denny (after working as a game tracker on the Hawaiian islands). And son, like father, adds bird and animal noises to their music.
“It’s exciting, and you can’t help but get into it. When Lopaka whoops and howls, he sounds like some marvelous bird, and he’s playing intense percussion parts at the same time,” Wong enthuses. “The birdcalls are a virtuosic element, and they require an acoustic approach to work well. Samples or keyboards can sound so canned. And it really gives the original exotica musicians like Augie their due.”
The album includes original song titles that echo the campy names used on early exotica albums ("Voodoo Love," "When First I Love") along with Denny-penned tunes "Firecracker" and several traditional songs. The mixture is a good reminder that the mid-20th-century obsession with the exotic played no small part in the growth of what some today call "world music."

[mp3] The Waitiki 7: Similau

from the album New Sounds of Exotica
“We’re taking this wholly authentic approach to the music,” Wong explains. “There’s a big tiki revival going on, in places like Boston and New York,” notes Wong, “and exotica is a big part of that.” Of course, here in Olympia tiki has been revived for some time. Just check out the scene at the Mud Bay Tiki Lounge, or catch the weekly recap on KAOS-fm's Cover The Earth show, each Tuesday from 10am to noon.
More Waitiki 7:
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