Flamingods’ brand of world music is otherworldly.

They are a five piece from London via Bahrain who play a wide variety of instruments from all corners of the world. They are a truly multicultural bunch and it shows in their cosmic, worldwide sound.

Every week we ask one of our favourite bands to pick their top 5 of anything they like and this week Flamingods have delved into exotica. The genre emerged in the late 1950s and, much like the band, takes its influence from far-flung sounds and instrumentation.

Take a listen and see what they band have got to say below.

Piero Umiliani - Risaie

A well known fixture in the exotica and b-side porno music scene of the 60s, Piero’s sun drenched melodies embark you on journeys to far flung exotic lands in an often psychedelic and curious way. Risaie seems to capture everything we love about the genre; hypnotic, melodic, enchanting and groovy all at once.

Oh, and he’s also the dude who composed the original Mah Na Mah Na song covered by the Muppets Show!

Les Baxter - Oasis of Dakhla

Baxter is known as the genius of the Exotica genre, having laid down the foundation in the early 50s, leading to many of his songs getting covered by the likes of Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. His music is often complex and captures imagery of tribal exotic landscapes masterfully. Oasis of Dakhla progresses like a snake creeping out it’s charmer’s basket in the most majestic of ways, making it a favourite from his excellent LP Tamboo.

Evan Crankshaw of Flash Strap once said “At his best, he elevates the escapist vacation and musical tourism of the genre to the level of sublime”. We couldn’t agree more.

Eden Ahbez - Banana Boy

The story of Eden Ahbez is one of the strangest from the Exotica scene. Known as one of the first hippies of California, he lived a life away from the norms of society; sporting a long white robe, eating a raw-food diet and living underneath the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles with his family in the 40s. He is most famous for composing the No.1 hit Nature Boy for Nat King Cole.

His LP Eden’s Island takes influence from Oriental mysticism and feeds that through beatnik poetry and enchanted exotica arrangements that are as intoxicating as they are thought provoking. Banana Boy probably stands as the most catchy of the genre.

His story is pretty nuts, you can read more about it here.

Tito Puente - Call Of The Jungle Birds

Tito Puente is known as El Rey De Los Timbales or The King of the Timbales for his upbeat mambo and Latin jazz music. Every now and again he would dabble with exotica arrangements that harken imageries of the jungle. Call Of The Jungle Birds highlights that more downbeat side to his sound with whimsical flute melodies and hypnotically repetitive African drum rhythms drifting the instrumental through placid tropical landscapes.

If interested, you can watch a video of him shredding out on the timbales here. It’s pretty impressive and kind of outrageous all at once.

Nino Nardini & Roger Roger - Bagheera
 What’s interesting about Nino Nardini & Roger Roger’s Jungle Obsession is that it was released in the 70s much after exotica’s popular years of the 50s-60s. They were masters of library music in France, providing sounds for movies, TV series and other media. They refreshed the genre by bringing in contemporary elements such as blues guitar sections, grooving funk, soothing synths and rock percussion all too familiar to that great psychedelic sound of the 70s.
What’s more is that every track on the record refers to a different character or action in The Jungle Book. Whether they were referring to the 1893 collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling or the 60s Disney movie I guess we’ll never know.

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