You cannot deconstruct unless you know how to construct. - Alexander McQueen

Some Eden Ahbez Love permalink

So great to see LA Weekly shine a light on Eden Ahbez, one of the more intriguing figures in the Exotica pantheon.

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Eden Ahbez: protohippie, musician, mystic, Nature Boy. At the Lake Shrine ashram in Pacific Palisades, CA.

If you come across Ahbez’s only solo LP in the wild, Eden’s Island (Del-Fi, 1960), then lucky you. Ahbez composed all the music on it. He sings and plays a wooden flute. Dreamer of “untellable dreams”, he recites his grasp of the elusive in a peaceful, hypnotic cadence. It’s a rare and beautiful record:

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Eden Ahbez’s Eden’s Island, 1960.

And since it was the Retro Cocktail Hour that introduced me to Eden Ahbez, it’s only fitting to plug the most recent show, the All Exotica Special. In it you’ll hear Ahbez’s “Full Moon” as well as a zoo-full of tropical animals or people imitating them. If you’re wondering what Exotica is, this program is a great primer:

Flashstrap’s Unsung Heroes, My Unsung Heroes permalink

In the real world, I have found the path of the Exotica collector to be a lonely and brambly one. My preference for stalking vinyl in the wild as opposed to on internet game reserves like ebay makes hanging my trophies all the more rewarding. At record stores I get comments like, “You collect that stuff?” and, “You like that crap?” and my favorite, “Is ‘Exotica’ a band name?”. On those rare occasions I’m caught in a squall of appreciation, it tends to be drool over the cover girls. Anymore, I prefer to put on some bug spray and head farther afield, to estate sales. Better deals, less opinionated sales people.

Collecting Exotica through the internet seems to be the road more often travelled. All you have to do is ride your Side x Side right up for an easy lung shot. Often times, however, you’ll be surprised at the last minute by the number of hunters nearby, and bidding wars can get frenzied for a prize buck.

Finding other Exotica enthusiasts on the internet has its rewards. Learning about the genre is made easy because there are some wonderful resources out there by dedicated folks like Flashstrap:

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The content is outstanding and includes lovingly curated mixes, eye-popping collages and sensuous run-on sentences:

A smoldering triumph of hazy tropic/modal bluesy languid-erotic repetitions– with Pearson’s piano acting as mysterious guide through the spiritual structure and Bobby Hutcherson’s vibes as both explorer and scurrying wildlife, accented by a classic jungle-shadow flute sound (from Jerry Dodgion), and a killer bass line– this track lives up to, and indeed surpasses, the sensual and exotic experience impossibly promised by the exquisite cover art.

Of course, Flashstrap will taunt you with curiosities that verge on mythical beast territory…

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Bianchi & the jungle sex-tet - “music to play in the dark” (1959).

…but I always leave the site satisfied that I have learned yet more information that I can share with nobody I come in contact with on a daily basis. But that’s what keeps me going. That, and this:

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An Evening At Arnie’s Lounge. From left: Adele Edwards on organ/vocals (and occasionally the trumpet), Arnie Aka Nui on vocals/Hawaiian steel guitar and his son Arne Becker on drums/vocals. Arnie sounds like Elvis on “Hawaiian War Chant”, so what’s there not to love?

Ok, so An Evening At Arnie’s Lounge isn’t Exotica, but I say it keeps me going with zero irony. It makes me happy. I even daydream about a fictitious documentary called Follow the Yellow Shag Carpet: The Search for Arnie Aka Nui.