Various Artists - Pure Exotica: As Dug by Lux & Ivy [Righteous/ Cherry Red - 2012]Here’s the latest in the Righteous labels Lux & Ivy compilation series, which sees respected music journalist Dave Henderson crate-digging for obscure 45’s from the ’50s & ’60s. Entitled Pure Exotica, this two CD set takes thirty-four slices of easy listening cheese- and while it may not all be strictly Exotica, it’s another well compiled & evenly balanced compilation- blending together known names like Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and Arthur Lyman with more obscure fare.
The two-disc set comes presented in a clear jewel case- this takes in a colourful eight-page booklet, featuring a short write up about the easy listening sub-genre of Exotica, bright & tropical album cover art & basic track credits. On the inside back sleeve, we get a nicely bright collage taking in a host of other LP covers.
The comp is split in two with the first disc meant to offer up the 'light' side of Exotica, and the second the 'darker' side- and much like the exclusive suggesting title, this is slightly off- though each disc offers up a good selection of tracks.
The first disc features eighteen tracks & fifty-two minutes of playtime. It opens in fine & classic Exotica fashion with Martin Denny’s “Bali Ha’l” with its blend pitter-pattering percussion, lush vibe melodies, grand piano darts, and bird song chatter. As we move on we come to lesser-known examples of the genre like Elisabeth Waldo’s “Balsa Boat”- which opens with a brief snippet of water flow, before moving into a lulling-if-mournful( see what I mean about the disc labelling) blend of waving female vocalising, snaking-to-darting percussion, and shimmering Spanish guitar. As we move further into the disc we come to the big band swooning & swooping of Ray Antony’s “Palm Spring”, and the eastern promise meets darting keyed jazz-ness & twanging guitar jive of “Algiers” by Bianchi. With this first disc been topped off in fine if wonky & slightly swirl manner by “Dawn Under The Sea”- which weaves together darting vibes, flute trails, and simmer early electronic tones.
The second disc features sixteen more tracks & another sixty-two minutes of music. Here we move jiving & layered horns, bossa nova male & female vocalising and skittering percussion of “Ochun” by Johnny Richards. Onto wordy-yet-glum storytelling meets downbeat jazz & scraping percussive flow of Buddy Collet’s “Polynesian Suite”. Through to twinking vibe & tip-tapping percussion of Arthur Lyman’s “Legend Of The Rain”- with it’s neat rain shower field recording & later sweet Hawaiian guitar touches. Onto spritely & swinging horn, sassy orchestration, and rippling key work of Phil Moore’s “125th Street Prophet”.
All in all Pure Exotica is another worthy addition to the Lux & Ivy series- with both discs giving a good & balanced selection of tracks. Just don’t go into this expecting an exclusive Exotica compilation-because that’s not whats here.Roger Batty