Review: Although born and raised in Holland, the duo behind the Yin Yin project "make music for an imaginary tropical Island" based "somewhere between the Netherlands and South East Asia". It's an apt description of their undeniably humid, wide-eyed style, which variously combines elements of surf-rock, dub, psychedelia, ambient, electronica, spaced-out synth-pop and various traditional South East Asian musical tropes. It's a style that makes this long promised debut album a unique, distinctive and hugely vibrant listening experience. While inventive and colourful, their music is also largely dancefloor friendly and highly addictive. In other words, this is one debut album that's well worth picking up.
Review: First released way back in 2005 and here presented in remastered form, Queen of Exotica tells the musical tale of Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac, a singer with an extreme vocal range and a distinctive vibrato whose recordings and performances helped popularise exotica - an easy listening style that combined elements of many tropical, South American, Caribbean and oriental genres -across the world in the 1950s. The set begins with almost a disc worth of Sumac's earliest recordings, mostly of Peruvian folk songs, with the three CDs that follow showcasing the singer's celebrated and more musically expansive work of the 1950s. The box set delivers a vital history lesson for anyone with an interest in exotica and global musical fusion.
Review: In 2002, the Japanese government recognized bamboo flute maestro Hozan Yamamoto as a "living national treasure". It was in honor of his lengthy career in music, and in particular the way he championed a traditional Japanese instrument even when he was turning his hand to Western music. "Beautiful Bamboo Flute", an album first released in 1971 and almost impossible to find since, is a superb example of this. It sees him deliver haunting, emotional and life-affirming solos over funky jazz, big band and fusion backing tracks that tend towards the fresh and funky. It's an unusual blend, but also an invigorating and exciting one.