Waitiki 7’s album, “New Sounds of Exotica” is a Mai Tai drinker’s delight. “Ding ding da ding dingding ding ding dingdingding”…. the layering of Fender Rhodes piano over marimba and xylophone, sets the percussive theme throughout the entire set of works. Zaccai Curtis and Abe Lagrimas Jr. play like they are one person overdubbing themselves.
Tribute is paid to Webley Edwards and Les Baxter through the use of atmospheric sound effects in the first track “Similau” (as is appropriate for this number) and on track 3 “Bali Hai” where a Caribbean flute counterpoint floats over the classic South Pacific tune.
“New Sounds of Exotica” could also do in a pinch in those environments where Trip-Hop is standard fare. While beautiful tropi-lounge, it also has a wonderful diminished chords/minor key flavor to it at times that could go well with the ex shoe gazer turned hipster crowd. “When I First Love” is a good example of this, the meltdown of discernible style lending itself to reflection of the quasi-swanky vibe of the immediate environs. (If you’re in those environs.)
“Tiki” could’ve been produced by Teo Macero, it’s structure is so well planned out. Haunting reeds and urban sounding drums build a spare mental space that, while it doesn’t have ne thinking of Moai, it does have me thinking Martini. Soprano Sax riffing takes this number into an Elia Kazan concrete walled frame work where the sun cuts through the buildings at 7PM in the summer, making life a little weirder – but cooler.
I should also mention while the aforementioned liberal use of Soprano Sax runs throughout the album, it never once lapses into Kenny G-hood. The very characteristics of the instrument can cause this, let alone operator error (listen to Najma Akhtar’s Qareeb to experience what I’m talking about) the Waitiki 7’s reed player, Tim Mayer never lapses.
“Ruby” gives us another chance to appreciate what Waitiki 7 is really doing. Phrasing in appreciation of the form factor, and Firecracker seduces into actually appreciating the dreaded (at least in my world) drum solo, all the while reviving the exotica ersatz cultural flavor – in this case Chinese music.
As regards the title “New Sounds of Exotica” I found the most getting-used-to quality is its Chick Corea-ness which runs through the entire album. I have personal issues with Jazz-Fusion, stemming from all the shitheads who couldn’t wait to grow up and be adults in my formative years, but that shouldn’t stop someone from enjoying the other aspects of this album. Truth be told it is “New Sounds” and while channeling 70’s experimental Jazz Rock it does in fact open a door heretofore left closed. Check with me later to see if I still approve…..
If you’re having a party, play it. If you run a bar, play it. If you’re going swimming, play it. If you’re missing your uncle Rudy and all his cool stuff in his basement, play it. If you’re a lover, play it. If you’re wanting some great new exotica, play it. Lastly, if you’re not sure if I’m right, play the last track, “sweet pilake serenade” and then tell me I’m wrong.