Music is escapism. This is one of the reasons I get so lost for so many hours every night; I disappear into a sonic rabbit hole and emerge many hours later. It’s bliss! Entitled Full Moon, today’s song not only presents the opportunity to steal away a few precious moments, it offers solace, enchantment and a place to return to any time you need to be free.
The lyrics resonate within me so much: “And know the thrill of loneliness/And lose all sense of time/And be free”. Nothing is more valuable in this life than an abundance of free time. The images this song creates in my mind evokes such a stillness within; it’s simply magic! The spoken lyrics in Full Moon also reminds me of Robbie Basho and I did have to check that it wasn’t him when I heard this for the first time! When I saw the album cover I recognised it immediately from all the many other times it’s (exotica) music has captured my attention!
Eden’s Island (The Music Of An Enchanted Isle) was the debut album for George Alexander Aberle, a.k.a Eden Ahbez, an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940’s-1960’s. Known for his bohemian lifestyle, Ahbez was at one point camping out below the first L. in the Hollywood sign above L.A and spent many years studying Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week, though I dare say that all changed as his fame grew! Known simply as ahbe, his lifestyle in California became very influential on the hippie movement, but that is no surprise given that he was the ultimate free spirit!
Another important detail to include about this fascinating artist was his composition and writing of a song that I’ve loved for many years! Originally released in 1948 by Nat King Cole, Nature Boy was actually penned and composed by Ahbez in 1947! The song became a #1 hit for eight weeks in 1948 for Nat “King” Cole and has since become a pop and jazz standard! I’ve learnt something new today, which is also quite spooky as I was only having a conversation about Nature Boy last night!!! I love how these things work!!
Anyway, back to tonight’s captivating offering! I’ve just found the reissue of Ahbez’s debut album on bandcamp (this is where The Moon comes from) and loved the accompanying write-up! So much so I’m going to paste it in below! I especially love the bit where it describes how the weird sound effects that came with exotica music “created a spooky jungle or dreamy island beach atmosphere. It can even bend your mind that far you would see palm trees growing out of your speakers and witness monkeys and parrots having fun in your room”. I couldn’t have put it better myself!!
Read more below and listen above!
“It is 1960, Rock’n’Roll has just lost a couple of its protagonists during this and the previous year, the time of the great balladeers has just begun but soon will run out due to the new and exciting beat invasion. In US mainstream the tiki culture has reached a certain peak and is about to collapse but still goes strong and with it comes the so called “exotica” music, a crossover between smooth jazz and swing, Latin grooves, haunting melodies that are rooted in the folkloristic sounds from different parts of this world plus weird sound effects that often create a spooky jungle or dreamy island beach atmosphere. It can even bend your mind that far you would see palm trees growing out of your speakers and witness monkeys and parrots having fun in your room. Eden Ahbez, born in 1908, passed in 1995, a man living an even more consistent dropout and hippie lifestyle way before the movement was born in the mid 60s, a beat poet and composer who wrote the hit tune “Nature boy” that gave Nat King Cole his first big success in 1947, approaches the field of exotica music from a different point of view creating an epic concept album about an utopian society living in peace and harmony on an island far away from the modern western world as we know it. And indeed we find many trademarks of the prototypical exotica music beginning with this relaxed groove combining easy listening swing and Latin patterns, peaceful, dreamy and even transcendental vocal melodies, tinges of folk music from around the world including powerful dances and a whole color palette of mind expanding sounds giving the whole music an even greater depth and width. The latter being created entirely with real instruments such as Eden Ahbez’ wood-flute. Some tunes are rather gentle and relaxed with the lyrics being narrated which adds much to the epic feel of the album. Since this is a really unique effort, I cannot really compare it to any other musical piece of the genre but definitely recommend it to exotic aficionados who for example love Frank Hunter’s “White goddess” album from 1959. Psychedelic music before the term was even invented.”