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Album Review

Imagine a wild assortment of '60s incidental soundtrack music thrown into a stew, then played back again on somewhat more modern equipment. That's what Marden Hill did on their 1988 album Cadaquez, several years ahead of when such lounge/jazz/Morricone/surf blends started to come back into fashion. You can tick off numerous reference points as the songs fly by: ominous cool jazz spy movie themes ("Masque"), suave Euro jet set crooning ("Oh Constance"), jump'n'jive ("Robe"), the Shadows ("Anthem"), early-'60s surf stomp ("Bacchus Is Back," "Satellite"), Ennio Morricone spaghetti westerns ("The Execution of Emperor Maximillian," a very close mimic complete with gladiator chant scatting and black mass organ), after-hours cabaret ("Bar Room Fly"). It's presented as impeccably as a newly pressed suit, though the consummate skill and taste is more calculated than soulful. It must say something about the cycle of popular culture when such an avowedly retro album is itself reissued less than 15 years after its original appearance.

Cadaquez, Marden Hill
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