Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Exotic Music--Andre Kostelanetz (1946)
Gorgeous mood music, by the master of same, Russian-born Andre Kostelanetz. Only four selections in this 12" 78rpm album, but I do not complain, especially when the music is so fine and the outside art so awesome. (Wore my wrist out cloning out the worn spots on the black background.)
The chief problem with two-disc 78 albums is their increased tendency to crack when mailed, since there are only two records. Dealers should know to take shellac discs out of an album (left inside, they're free to move around and crack), but "should," plus $1.29, will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's. And so I have at least one cracked copy of Exotic Music, but I have another--from where, I don't remember--whose discs are not only whole but, until I put them on my turntable, unplayed. These are the ones I ripped. I track heavy, but nothing like the tonearms of old.
The standout track, by far, is the roots-of-exotica selection Lotus Land, composed by Cyril Scott in 1905, and by far his best-known work. The liner notes are worth quoting:
"Lotus Land finds its story in the Odyssey of Homer. During the ten years of tribulation which he spent returning from the siege of Troy, Odysseus braved and overcame many perils, some fierce and aggressive, others latent and passive, but just as deadly. One of these periods awaited him in the land of the Lotus-eaters. Whoever stopped here and ate of the lotus flower would at once forget all thoughts of home and duty and remain on to live in dreamy indolence. This peril, successfully defied by Odysseus, is pictured with wonderful realism in this impressionistic music. The languid, dulled ease, the meaninglessness of time, the fatal beauty of the flower, are all richly embroidered in this tonal tapestry."
Damn--they don't write notes like that anymore. And it's hard to imagine music that more perfectly describes its subject. The other three selections, especially Flamingo, also rock.
Mood music brilliance from 1946.
Click here to hear: Exotic Music, 1946
Poinciana (Song of the Tree; Nat Simon)
Song of India (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Lotus Land (Cyril Scott)
Andre Kostelanetz and His Orch.
(Columbia MX-264, 1946)