The Forbidden Sounds of Don Tiki and
Skinny Dip with Don Tiki
hot lava erupting from a long extinct volcano, Don Tiki
has revived exotica music from the depths of the discount
record bin. The brainchild of lounge aficionados Perry
Coma and Fluid Floyd (a.k.a., Kit Ebersbach and Lloyd
Kandell), this collective of regular and guest musicians
play the same mixture of music that originally put Martin
Denny, Les Baxter, and Arthur Lyman on the map in the
1950s and '60s.
those not familiar with Hawaii's most sought after tiki-lounge
band, Don Tiki's two current CDs are a pupu platter of
African, South American, and Polynesian instruments, rhythms,
melodies, and bird calls. On their debut disc, The
Forbidden Sounds of Don Tiki, their instrumentals
range from the serene "Madenhair Fern" to the
boiling "Hot Like Lava." When the band adds
vocals, they drift off into good-natured kitsch in the
haunting "Bamboozled" and catchy old tropical
fantasy tunes, like "An Occasional Man," both
sung by Hai Jung, The Girl from Pago Pago. To make their
debut all the more authentic, the legendary Martin Denny
plays on two of his own songs, the classic "Exotica"
and a new song he wrote for the occasion, "Forever
Tiki's second CD, Skinny Dip with Don Tiki, has
a more lush, suave sound that tries to bring the exotica
vibe into the 21st century. The hard-driving rhythms in
songs like "Pinakbet" and "Heat" show
off their Latin jazz influences, while their slow seductive
arrangements of "All Quiet Flows the Don" and
"Wet Cave" transport you far away from civilization.
In the midst of the CD's sincere instrumentals, the band
still finds time for tongue-in-cheek vocal numbers, like
the inviting "The Other Side of the Moon," sung
by Hai Jung, the velvety "The Natives are Restless,"
crooned by Delmar deWilde, and the eerie yet intoxicating
"Axolotl," which is their tribute to multi-octave
exotica singer Yma Sumac.
an exotica purist, I prefer the band's first CD. However,
I have to admit that the seamless flow of their second
release mesmerizes me. Their live show is not to be missed,
but if you can't catch them in person in Honolulu, check
out their Website for QuickTime videos of the band performing
with their troupe of Polynesian dancers.