It is 1960, Rock'n'Roll has just lost a couple of its protagonists during this and the previous year, the time of the great balladeers has just begun but soon will run out due to the new and exciting beat invasion. In US mainstream the tiki culture has reached a certain peak and is about to collapse but still goes strong and with it comes the so called "exotica" music, a crossover between smooth jazz and swing, Latin grooves, haunting melodies that are rooted in the folkloristic sounds from different parts of this world plus weird sound effects that often create a spooky jungle or dreamy island beach atmosphere.
It can even bend your mind that far you would see palm trees growing out of your speakers and witness monkeys and parrots having fun in your room. Eden Ahbez, born in 1908, passed in 1995, a man living an even more consistent dropout and hippie lifestyle way before the movement was born in the mid 60s, a beat poet and composer who wrote the hit tune "Nature boy" that gave Nat King Cole his first big success in 1947, approaches the field of exotica music from a different point of view creating an epic concept album about an utopian society living in peace and harmony on an island far away from the modern western world as we know it. And indeed we find many trademarks of the prototypical exotica music beginning with this relaxed groove combining easy listening swing and Latin patterns, peaceful, dreamy and even transcendental vocal melodies, tinges of folk music from around the world including powerful dances and a whole color palette of mind expanding sounds giving the whole music an even greater depth and width. The latter being created entirely with real instruments such as Eden Ahbez' wood-flute.
Some tunes are rather gentle and relaxed with the lyrics being narrated which adds much to the epic feel of the album. Since this is a really unique effort, I cannot really compare it to any other musical piece of the genre but definitely recommend it to exotic aficionados who for example love Frank Hunter's "White Goddess" album from 1959. Psychedelic music before the term was even invented.
The Old Boat
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