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Related: foreign - lounge - Martin Denny - music - orientalism - space age pop

Instances: Exotique (American vintage fetish magazine)

Exotica (1956) - Martin Denny

The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica/Exotica, Vol. I & II - Martin Denny [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book cover for "The Complete Reprint of Exotique: The First 36 Issues, 1951-1957" more ....

Exotica (1994) - Atom Egoyan [Amazon.com] more ....

Incredibly Strange Music (Re/Search ; 14) (1992) - Vale, Andrea Juno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] more ....

Exotica (1999) - David Toop [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] more ....

Definition (musical genre)

Exotica is a musical genre, named for the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title, popular during the late 1950's to mid 1960's typically with the middle aged suburban set who came of age during World War II. The musical colloquialism exotica means very precisely tropical ersatz: the non-native, pseudo experience of Oceana (Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Southeast Asia). The principal advocates of this style tended to be Hawaiian, probably because of the remove from mainland music. While the South Seas forms the core region, exotica reflects the "musical impressions" of every place from standard travel destinations to the mythical "shangri-las" dreamed by armchair safari-ers.

Les Baxter’s album, Ritual of the Savage (Le Sacre du Sauvage), would become the cornerstone of Exotica. This album featured lush orchestral arrangements along with tribal rhythms and featured such classics as "Quiet Village", "Jungle River Boat", "Love Dance", and "Stone God." Ritual is the seminal Exotica record, influencing all that came after it.

As the Fifties progressed, Baxter carved out a niche in this area, producing titles in this style for Yma Sumac and Bas Sheva, in addition to continuing to record in the "jungle" style as well as more traditional ones (evidenced by his 1956 #1 pop hit "Poor People of Paris").

In 1956, Martin Denny burst on to the scene with his dreamy Hawaiian rhythms complete with exotic birdcalls. The new technology of stereo recording gave the music, and the oriental ethnic instruments in it, an almost surreal effect. After forming his band in 1955, Denny produced his first album Exotica featuring himself on the piano, Arthur Lyman on vibes, Augie Colon on percussion and birdcalls, and John Kramer on string bass. In 1957, Denny and composer Lex Baxter produced "Quiet Village" which soon topped the charts and defined what Polynesian music was all about. After a string of successful albums Denny's commercial appeal faded and by the mid 60's Rock and Roll supplanted Exotica in the American musical mainstream. Interestingly enough, Exotica and its parent genre Lounge, have resurfaced and have gained in popularity in recent years.

Exotica relies on percussion: conga, bongos, vibes, gongs, boo bams (bamboo sticks), Tahitian log, Chinese bell tree, bird calls, big-cat roars, and even primate shrieks invoke the dangers of the jungle. Except for a handful of singers and standards with lyrics, singing is rare. Abstract, sirenish ululations, fierce chants, or guttural growls are common, however. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotica [Jan 2005]

The strictest definition limits exotica to the imitations of Polynesian, Afro-Caribbean, and Hawaiian music that were produced by Les Baxter and others from the mid-1950s to the very early 1960s. This music blended the elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms, unusual instrumentations, environmental sounds, and lush romantic themes from Hollywood movies, topped off with evocative titles like "Jaguar God," into a cultural hybrid native to no place outside the San Fernando Valley.

There were two primary strains of this kind of exotica: Jungle and Tiki. Jungle was definitely a Hollywood creation, with its roots in Tarzan movies (and further back, to W.H. Hudson's novel, Green Mansions. Les Baxter was the king of jungle exotica, and spawned a host of imitators while opening the doors for a few more genuine articles such as Chaino, Thurston Knudson, and Guy Warren. Tiki was introduced with Martin Denny's Waikiki nightclub combo cum jungle noises cover of Baxter's "Quiet Village," although Denny's vibe player, Arthur Lyman, soon became the style's most representative artist. Tiki rode a wave of popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s marked by the entrance of Hawaii as the 50th state in 1959 and the introduction of Tiki hut cocktail bars and restaurants around the continental United States. Tiki exotica is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and Tiki mugs and torches that once collected dust in thrift stores are now hot items. -- http://www.spaceagepop.com/whatis.htm#exotica


Queen of Exotica (2005) - Yma Sumac

In search of artistic outsiders.

Queen of Exotica (2005) - Yma Sumac [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Yma Súmac (believed born in Ichocán, Cajamarca, Perú September 10, 1922), also earlier spelled Ymma Sumak (quechua translation of "pretty flower") or Imma Sumack is a noted vocalist of Peruvian origin. In the 1950s she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music. She is remembered chiefly for her amazing voice, which at the time, covered a range of four octaves. She is (with some controversy) credited with singing the highest note recorded by the female voice (surpassing Erna Sack) in the track "Chuncho" in one of her LPs (Inca Taqui 1953).

During the 1950s, she produced a series of legendary lounge recordings featuring Hollywood-style versions of Incan and South American folk songs, working with the likes of Les Baxter and Billy May. The combination of her extraordinary voice, exotic looks and stage personality made her a hit with American audiences. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yma_S%C3%BAmac [May 2006]

See also: music - exotica - outsider music

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