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Exotica / Exotica II

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Album Review

Two of Martin Denny's Liberty albums from 1958, Hypnotique and Exotica III, are combined on this 1997 CD. Hypnotique takes Denny's exotic sound to Asia with the use of Japanese instruments applied to melodies such as "Chinese Lullaby" and "On a Little Street in Singapore." Even some of Western songs like "St. Louis Blues" and "Summertime" receive the Asian treatment, but several tunes don't fit with the theme. "Jungle Madness" and "Voodoo Dreams" seem to have gotten lost on their way to one of Denny's jungle albums, and a ghostly chorus sings "We Kiss in the Shadow" to the accompaniment of what sounds like a dozen sets of wind chimes in a storm. Exotica III is even more stylistically inconsistent, with jungle sounds here, Japanese instruments there, a little Latin percussion, and even a train whistle on "Congo Train." "Harbor Lights," with its water effects and vibraphone, could pass for a modern relaxation tape, while "Ringo Oiwake," "Hello Young Lovers," and "Limehouse Blues" should have been included on Hypnotique. On both albums, Denny casts a wide net for sounds from around the world and reconstitutes them as "exotica," a variety of music that simulates and evokes without getting bogged down in matters of authenticity and accuracy.


Born: 05 April 1911 in New York, NY

Genre: World

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In the mid-'50s, composer and pianist Martin Denny combined lounge jazz, Hawaiian music, Latin rhythms, bird calls, and then-exotic ethnic instruments like, koto, gamelans, and Burmese temple bells into the sound known as exotica. Although the craze was short-lived, Denny recorded several popular instrumental albums and hit number four in 1959 with "Quiet Village," one of the most unusual top ten singles of all time. Born on the mainland, Denny drew upon his worldwide experiences as a touring musician...
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Exotica / Exotica II, Martin Denny
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