Time to whisk away to a fictional paradise with our show on Exotica. Exotica was a popular jazz and easy-listening genre from the late ’50s and early ’60s that harnessed America’s interest in faux-Polynesian and tiki culture. Utilizing vibraphones, piano, exotic percussion and a healthy dose of bird calls, Exotica crafted a unique and fantastical world for its listeners to inhabit. We cover Martin Denny’s genre-defining output, Les Baxter’s essential compositions that laid the groundwork for the movement, Arthur Lyman’s gorgeous, dreamy vibes and of course plenty of oddball outliers as well. Make yourself a strong mixed drink and melt into your couch on this episode of Philosophy of the World.

1. Martin Denny – “Quiet Village” from Exotica

2. Les Baxter & His Orchestra – “Jungle Jalopy” from Ritual of the Savage

3. eden ahbez – “La Mar” from Eden’s Island

4. Arthur Lyman – “Sea Breeze” from Taboo

5. Frank Hunter & His Orchestra – “White Goddess” from White Goddess

6. Ethel Azama – “Ringo Oiwake” from Exotic Dreams

7. Elisabeth Waldo – “Festival Of Texcatlipoca” from Rites Of The Pagan

8. Robert Drasnin – “Hindara” from Voodoo!

9. Paul Conrad – “Kahuna” from Exotic Paradise

10. The Surfmen – “Orchid Lagoon” from The Sounds Of Exotic Island

11. Bud Tutmarc – “End Of The Trail” from Sacred Hawaiian Melodies

12. The Gene Rains Group – “Tropic Trade Winds” from Far Across The Sea

Support us on Patreon

Subscribe to the podcast—
iTunesSpotify • GooglePlayStitcherRSS feed

As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 begins, we here at Philosophy of the World are reflecting back on the last twelve months. It’s been a lot of fun putting this podcast back together and I’d say there are few things we’d rather be doing than shootin’ the shit about music. We greatly appreciate all the love and support you’ve shown us.

Steve and Carr feel pretty differently about year-end lists (Steve’s a bit of a wet blanket about it, haha), but it just wouldn’t be the end of a year without a list of some sort. At Philosophy of the World we believe all musical genres have some element of merit and, no matter what year, there is a wealth of underground, forward-thinking music. So, unsurprisingly, there is an abundance of incredible records to enjoy this year. Check out some of these selections if you get the chance!

Ashley Paul is an impressive American multi-instrumentalist and composer who’s been around for a while, but her record Lost in Shadows was my first exposure to her impressive work. In the wake of giving birth this record was inspired by “many hours spent awake at night in a dream like state of half consciousness, darkness and solitude; an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and exhaustion made light by a profound new love.” We also were fortunate enough to get fantastic, mature and ambitious records from Oneohtrix Point Never and Julia Holter, at what could be the height of their careers. The former released the paradigm-busting, world-building Age Of that simply highlights the pointlessness of stylistic boundaries. The latter crafted an immense, unparalleled marvel of composition and sound design, Aviary, full of fragmented microcosms, chiseled cacophony and mercurial arrangements that must be heard. Then we have the found-object artist, Lonnie Holley, who reared his head again this year with a remarkable album, MITH, with very few reference points. With contributions from the likes of Laraaji, Sam Gendel, and Richard Swift, Holley crafts a lush album of cosmic energy. Eiko Ishibashi has had a very productive year with three records, The Dream My Bones Dream probably being the one that caught our ear the most. We’ve seen her called Japan’s response to Julia Holter and that’s not a bad comparison. The album, replete with immaculate production from Jim O’Rourke, is full of nebulous jazz-pop, cinematic strings and improvised percussion and piano. Interestingly, the album is meant to explore her family history in the wake of her father’s death, “imagining a past she never knew.”Duo Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi, collectively known as Senyawa and hailing from Jogjakarta, Indonesia, continued their exploration of uncharted terrain with Sujud combining the traditional with experimental. Shabara’s extreme vocals and whispered poetry with Suryadi’s homemade instrumentation results in remarkable earthscapes. This year, Trouble in Mind was on a roll. From the startling initial saxophone screech, Sunwatcher’s killer sophomore album appropriately titled II, doesn’t let up its unique, noisy brand of psychedelic rock. Experimentalist titans Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt teamed up again for their second full length this year. Between Corsano’s unstoppable drum frenzy and Orcutt’s disjointed bluesy guitar smacks, Brace Up! is an improvisational juggernaut. YMFEES is another record that became a bit divisive this year but at Philosophy of the World we loved the weird-as-fuck vibes it gave off. Driving drum machines and reverb-heavy vocals made for an abrasive and compelling avant-pop album from Leslie Winer & Jay Glass Dubs. Near the end of the year we came across this great Swedish record Monika by Golden Ivy. Full of programmed rhythms, violin and flute this definitely evokes Hassel’s fourth world. If that sounds appealing, you’ll dig this!If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know Carr likes his twang – hillbilly motherfucker. But at Philosophy of the World we particularly love artists that are so well versed in traditional forms of folk that they can effectively turn it upside down, experiment and blend it into something new. Three Lobed certainly seem to see eye-to-eye with us on this and in 2018 they killed it with Daniel Bachman’s The Morning Star and a stellar collaboration between Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore on Ghost Forests. While Bachman has been putting out consistently quality records of American primitivism with lush story telling using only his guitar, he took a different trajectory with The Morning Star. Paralleling Bachman’s move back to Virginia and the unfortunate result of the 2016 election, this musical effort is a transformation, full of expressionist soundscapes, forgoing standard musical structures and allowing the songs to breathe. It’s his most provocative and perhaps his best to date. Ghost Forests, featuring Meg Baird (known for her solo work as well as being part of Espers and Heron Oblivion) and the rather prolific harpist Mary Lattimore, is a stunning and clearly natural pairing. Lattimore’s harp and Baird’s guitar and voice pair seamlessly to form ghostly, elegantly restrained, ethereal magic. Sarah Louise has been on our radar for some time now given a pretty impressive discography featuring impressive finger picking and Appalachian Folk from her House and Land album last year. On Deeper Woods, however, she brings her voice front and center. There is even the addition of drums, cello, synth and an acapella number. We simply can’t wait to see what Sarah does next! Nathan Bowles, veteran banjo player from Black Twig Pickers, Spiral Joy Band and Pelt, dropped his fourth full length solo album Plainly Mistaken. This time around he’s got a full band. Maybe the notion of banjo turns you off, but Bowles is really able to use the instrument and folk in general to create something truly transcendent. While admittedly not quite as leftfield or forward thinking as the other selections here, The Other Years’ self-titled debut was hard not to like. We’ve got acoustic guitar, fiddles, banjo and tight harmonies. It still manages to have a weird, cosmic feel to its songs reminiscent of Michael Hurley, perhaps. An impressive first outing from Heather Summers and Anna Krippenstapel.With the first full length album in 12 years under this name, veteran Japanese produce, Kaoru Inoue (aka Chari Chari), released the absolutely beautiful and transportive Em Paz. The new age pop, healing ragas and ambient excursions are in the vein of Eno and Hassell. Kilchhofer’s debut release, The Book Room, was a standout this year. It’s full of minimalist composition, organic sounding tribal drums, percussion-driven krautrock and even some circular techno patterns. A truly modern record. Meanwhile, RVNG Intl kept killing it this year, in particular with Kate NV’s для FOR. This one caught our ear with its subtle arpeggiations soundtracking the urban landscape of Kate NV’s home Moscow. It feels both alien and welcoming. Similarly, we were fortunate to experience some true serenity with Cool Maritime’s (aka Sean Hellfritsch and husband of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith) debut vinyl release, Sharing Waves, released on Leaving Records. Hellfritsch is a modular electronic composer and this album is incredibly pristine with nature-heavy motifs. Finally, Mind Over Mirrors was back this year on Paradise of Bachelors with his captivating Bellowing Sun. While Jaime Fennelly has always been talented, on this outing he has a full band that really complements his grand vision. Better yet, it’s a Midwestern group with drummer Jon Mueller, violinist Jim Beck, and singer Janet Beveridge Bean. While it’s synth heavy and droney as always, it also features diverse elements including bluegrass and noise.While a lot of the stuff on this list has an experimental edge, we’ve enjoyed some relatively more straight-forward albums as well. For example, Bonny Doon’s sophomore effort, Longwave, made it onto the excellent Woodsist imprint. To my ear it’s reminiscent of Silver Jews and has a nice jangly quality and excellent production. Lovely solos, progressions and songwriting – that’s all ya need, right? Similarly, we have Olden Yolk’s debut full length on Trouble In Mind with a nice flavor of folk-tinged psychedelia in the vein of Quilt or Woods. Nuances abound on this one and commitment is definitely rewarded. Plus Philosophy of the World is definitely on the bandwagon with this new Low album, Double Negative. Granted, Steve and Carr are suckers for the sad sack shit that’s all over the Low discography, but the band’s latest effort is certainly a standout stylistically. Interestingly, their base approach is still heard – soft and unhurried pop songs, but this time it’s run through a defective machine with glitches and heavy feedback. Speaking of emotional richness, we’ve got New Zealander Maxine Funke’s album Silk on Feeding Tube. The album is bare, with hushed lyrics, introspective and personal. The tone and feel of the album reminds of Sibylle Baier. Last year, we were really into Rose Elinor Dougall’s album, Stellular. This year, fellow former member of The Pipettes, Gwenno released her sophomore solo album, Le Kov. Meaning “a place of memory,” the album is completely in Cornish and meant to be a record of the language in the wake of the British government cutting funding towards teaching the language in 2016. Irrespective of the language, the album is full of playful, catchy, dreamy, pop songs. Simply infectious.Nils Frahm, one of the most promising modern composers around these days, released yet another album, All Melody, on Erased Tapes that may be his most mature work to date. A lot of care went into this record with each piece consisting of purely analog instrumentation. The unrestricted feel to this album is likely the result of him recording this in his brand-new studio in Berlin. What’s next for this rising star? Mary Lattimore has been pretty damn productive this year and has really put that Lyon & Healy harp of hers to work. Not only did she have the stellar collaborative album with Meg Baird discussed earlier, but also her own solo album, Hundreds of Days. This is her first album since relocating from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. On this one she not only continues her incredible story-telling ability, but even incorporates elements of guitar, piano, her voice, synthesizer and sequencer into the mix, which she had been tinkering with since her move making her music even more vivid than before. Ameel Brecht, one third of Razen, also made an incredible solo record this year. Polygraph Heartbeat is made up of nine pieces for steel resonator and mandolin. The craftsmanship is pure and precise. London-based saxophonist, Ben Vince, put out a not-so-minimalist record this year. Assimilation really lets his saxophone go wild while he collaborates with some impressive back up including Mica Levi, Rupert Clervaux, and Valentina Magaletti. Fellow member of Oneohtrix Point Never’s live band with Eli Keszler, Kelly Moran also had a great solo album, Ultraviolet, and on Warp no less. Prepared piano compositions/improvisations adorned with various effects and synthesizers.Our episode on spiritual jazz may have been possibly our least popular, but it’s impossible to talk about the richness of the underground in 2018 without touching on the modern jazz scene. Here at POTW we like our jazz spiritual, free, and out there. So, you’re not going to find much post-bop or hard-bop here – we like that shit weird. And frankly the vast majority of jazz we listen to is from the 60s and 70s (and even some in the 80s). So, perhaps we’ve been ignorant of this flavor of music over the last several years, but 2018 definitely caught our attention. The UK jazz scene in particular seems to be absolutely on fire. Szun Waves, for example, released their second album, New Hymn to Freedom, on Leaf this year. Led by saxophonist Jack Wyllie, Szun Waves make a unique version of jazz, one that’s spacious, glistening, ambient and relatively formlessness. It packs a soft, yet powerful punch. Fellow Brits, led by drummer Nick Woodmansey, Emanative dropped a full length album called Earth with strands of African, Indian and Middle Eastern influences. This album features 21 musicians (!!!) with a core octet and appearances by the likes of The Pyramids’ Idris Ackamoor and Nat Birchall. As massive as that sounds, Woodmansey doesn’t throw this massive kitchen sink into the mix at once, instead using different plays for different pieces on the album – giving it a far more restrained and cohesive sound that one might expect. A remarkable modern jazz record. Sons of Kemet’s second LP, Your Queen Is a Reptile, has gotten a lot of well-deserved love. It’s a biting, dub and ska-infused, political juggernaut. Even some of the most rockist individuals should be able to find something to enjoy here. I’ve also been keeping an eye on Binker & Moses since last year’s solid Journey to the Mountain of Forever, and wow that paid off! Live records are items I tend to avoid because I don’t really need multiple versions of studio songs, but in the realm of jazz you can really miss out with this approach. Alive in the East? is a perfect example because it is pure FIRE. Ill Considered resides on the other end of the spectrum and actually lives up to the “spiritual jazz” label unlike someone like Kamasi Washington. I was very excited to find Ill Considered 3 this year with its spacious and textured improvisations.But hey! US players have been no slouches. Bassist and multi-instrumentalist, Sam Wilkes, put out an incredibly gorgeous spiritual endeavor on Leaving Records, WILKES. Together with contributions from saxophonist Sam Gendel (who he released collaborative work with earlier this year) he crafts jazz with dreamy ambient structures. If you dig that, Aqueduct Ensemble, hailing from Akron, Ohio, have made one of my most spun albums this year, Improvisations on an Apricot, in the vein of ECM-style jazz with electronic tinges, incorporating loops and glitches. A true beauty. Also, one of the greatest gifts in the realm of jazz we received this year was Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun released by International Anthem. Apparently, Ben LaMar Gay has been holding out on us. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, the dude apparently composed, performed and recorded about seven albums worth of material over the last year, compiled and pared down into this album. You have to simply hear this one to appreciate its eclecticism. But International Anthem has been very busy this year and also released the latest Makaya McCraven album. Universal Beings is long… too long, but beyond that it’s awesome. McCraven is a super talented drummer and his work tends to be recordings of improvised live performances that are subsequently edited. While there are some more post-bop moments, this one definitely gets free and even into some spiritual territory and ultimately is meant to project an “all-encompassing message of unity, peace and power by embracing transcendence in all its expressions.” They may be Aussies, but I’m gonna lump them in with the good ol US of A. We’ve been spoiled over the last few years and 2018 was no different. The Necks continue to have an immense influence on my listening habits with music that is unfortunately incompatible with the vinyl format. They’ve returned to their long-form format with Body this year, beginning with glacial progressions true to their minimalistic approach, which ultimately pays off with a cathartic crescendo before drifting off into the ether where their next project is sure to emerge in the future.Following her critically acclaimed All My Circles Run from last year, Sarah Davachi has been quite busy with Let Night Come on Bells End the Day released on the excellent Recital label and Gave in Rest on Ba Da Bing! We personally preferred the former but both are definitely worth checking out as Davachi continues her deeply layered and immersive drone. There’s melancholic tension here that evokes a sense of the sacred. Yet another Trouble in Mind album really didn’t get enough love this year and that’s Chicago’s Matchess (aka Whitney Johnson) with her fourth album, Sacracopra. This was actually the third album in a trilogy (the others being Seraphastra and Somnaphoria) with this installment apparently growing out of “a medical condition from birth that came back.” There’s introspective ambiance as usual with layers of voice, drum machine, field recordings, organ and even some viola. It’s an emotional experience. Another criminally overlooked album was Muunduja by Maarja Nuut & Ruum. This got some seriously heavy rotation this year. Maarja Nuut, singer and violinist, collaborated with electronic musician Hendrik Kaljujarv (Ruum), both from Estonia. The music here envelopes the listener within its own imaginary netherworld. It’s both transcendent and unfortunately transient given its liminal state. Next up, we have Eleventeen Eston’s At the Water on Growing Bin Records, his follow-up to his 2014 cassette, Delta Horizon, on Not Not Fun. We suspect this album is a perfect soundtrack to his home in Perth – serene, hazy, guitar ambient tunes. There are even some beautiful moments incorporating distant flute and saxophone. Keep an eye on this guy! Another great album that flew under the radar was Hilja by Cucina Povera. It’s the debut LP from Glasgow musician Maria Rossi that is simply hypnotic. It’s minimal, ethereal synth music with a heavy emphasis on vocals. A gorgeous album released on Night School.Yet another solo album from Eric Chenaux was released on Constellation Records this year. Slowly Paradise’s warbled guitar and gentle falsetto is captivating, warped and weird. His crooning is frankly old-fashioned and romantic, but it’s juxtaposition with out-of-tune, disjointed guitar and soft synth bleeps and drones just catches me off guard every time I listen. More weirdness can be found from Hawthonn on their latest album, Red Goddess (Of This Men Shall Know Nothing). The album revels in esoteric, occult and pagan themes with a focus on the feminine. It’s unhurried and carefully crafted with ethereal drone and field recordings. There are heavy concepts behind this album – if it strikes you fancy be sure to dig deeper into their inspiration, you won’t be disappointed. Yves Tumor’s Serpent Music from 2016 turned a lot of heads, and rightfully so. But his follow-up, Safe in the Hands of Love, was pretty surprising. I struggle to describe the album or even who Yves Tumor is, his sonic palate and personality seemingly metamorphizing, expanding and contracting continuously. I welcome figures like him, SOPHIE, and Arca to represent the new radical forefront of a bizarre, mutant pop force of the current generation. Meanwhile, after a string of EPs, Tokyo-based producer, Yoshinori Hayashi, made an impressive debut on Smalltown Supersound with Ambivalence. Embracing collage and the ritualistic, using both live instrumentation and samples of jazz and library sounds, Hayashi crafts a complex patchwork with idiosyncrasies abound (there’s even a Eden Ahbez sample on “Geckos”!). Ya know, dance music isn’t exactly something that strikes our fancy too often here, but we’ve always had an appreciation for the work of Nicolas Jaar. There is just something about his style of production that can be universally appealing. This goes for 2012-2017 released under the name A.A.L. (Against All Logic). It’s sugary and infectious, replete with crunching beats, soul samples and synths. You may not get me to dance, but avoiding bobbing to this one is irresistible.If you’re reading this you’ve probably heard us struggle with hip-hop on Philosophy of the World. The genre is really near the top of its game with regards to broad popularity with singles dominating charts and mainstream music publications celebrating several albums this year. And sure, we were really digging the new Pusha T, Earl Sweatshirt and Noname albums this year. Nonetheless, in the hip-hop underground, we struggle to find many intriguing artists with most of said community attempting to replicate what the popular artists are doing stylistically. Nonetheless, we were able to pick out a few jewels worth checking out if you’re sick of Drake and Kanye and don’t want to listen to yet another trap album. First, we’ve got the first physically release from Virginia-based producer Agnarkea (aka Keaton Transue). Loving his references to conspiracy theories with a title like Black Helicopters and songs like “PSYOP” and “Blue Beam”, it’s a great pairing with his production style with primitive edges and an underlying punk ethos juxtaposed to a chopped ‘n’ screwed approach. Elucid has been pretty busy this year working with Milo as Nostrum Grocers. But we particularly enjoyed his work with Billy Woods as Armand Hammer on their third record, Paraffin. This is probably the peak of their game to date with an album full of rough and heavy atmosphere. It’s truly an inspired example of dense, dystopian hip-hop. Over in New Zealand, we had quite the surprise in Avantdale Bowling Club’s self-titled record this year. It has absolutely absorbing jazz-based production and beats. Fortunately, it also doesn’t have kiwi-specific slang or punch lines – it’s universally great and shouldn’t be shortchanged as novelty. Next up, MIKE, one of my favorite players on the indie rap scene at the moment, was pretty damn prolific releasing Black Soap, mixtape War in My Pen, and our personal favorite, Renaissance Man. MIKE has a flow reminiscent of Earl Sweatshirt and even DOOM with rhyme schemes hard not to appreciate. The drugged out production is particularly appealing. On the other end of the spectrum, veteran indie rapper, Busdriver, returned for a mammoth of a record, Electricity Is on Our Side replete with Busdriver’s goofy and unique flow and inflection. Sonically there is a lot of variety here with jazzy beats and even glitch-hop. Despite the crazy length, the quality is remarkably consistent.Elysia Crampton dropped her fourth album this year, which running less than twenty minutes, was short and sweet. Nonetheless, it was incredibly impactful, a rebellion against white, boring minimalism. Its intricately woven discordant drums, samples, and guitars is at both times disorienting and beautiful A true standout in her discography. Meanwhile, Eli Keszler was busy making a splash on Shelter Press’ output this year with the incredible Stadium. Don’t be mistaken, this album, full of impossible textures and cascading melodies in created live with no processing. Keszler proves here what Daniel Lopatin once said about him, “…he’s a world-building percussionist.” While Stadium was critically celebrated in 2018, Elixir of Immortality by Mårble (Anton Glebov, hailing from St. Petersburg) was criminally overlooked. Off the back of perhaps the best cassette release on Not Not Fun this year, Diego, Mårble released his follow-up on vinyl and it’s a masterpiece in freak-folk-fourth-world. The atmosphere is tangible, made up of organic percussion, synths, guitar, and even saxophone. This needs to reach more ears. Another prolific producer put out a discography landmark in Aru Otoko No Densetsu. Yokohama-based producer Takahide Higuchi, Foodman, made his debut on Sun Araw’s label, Sun Ark in 2018 with a sparse yet brilliantly colorful album. It’s full of quirky whirs, ethereal chimes, individual piano notes and clock ticks all with jazzy syncopation. And, finally, keeping their noisy weirdness fresh, Jan Anderzen and collaborators, as Kemialliset Ystävät, returned with their first album in four years, Siipi empii (translating from Finish to “A Wing Hesitates” – something’s been lost here). As typical, there is a playfulness that makes the album’s experimental electronic arrangements and tornado-like orchestration weirdly palatable.

As if all that fresh, brand new music wasn’t enough, one shouldn’t forget the wealth of reissues, compilations and archival releases. To that end there was an abundance of rediscoveries in 2018, simply too many to detail each and every one displayed here. But we’d like to highlight some of the work of excellent artists and labels out there. So, the records depicted here are listed in order below:

Laraaji – Vision Songs Vol. 1 (Numero Group)
Rimarimba – The Collection (Freedom to Spend)
Carola Baer – The Story of Valerie (Concentric Circles)
Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton – Music and Poetry of the Kesh (Freedom to Spend)
Eblen Macari – Musica Para Planetarios (Seance Centre)


Alanis Obomsawin – Bush Lady (Constellation)
Garrett List – Your Own Self (Black Sweat)
Various Artists – Salm Volume One (Arc Light Editions)
Luciano Cilio – Dialoghi Del Presente (EMI)
Aqsak Maboul – Un Peu De L’Ame Des Bandits (Crammed Discs)


Roberto Musci & Giovanni Venosta – Urban and Tribal Portraits (Soave)
Ambienti Coassiali – Vol. 1 – Room 1-6 (Incidental Music)
Lorad Group – Sul Tempo (Lily)
Kano – Runes (Subliminal Sounds)
Carl Stone – Electronic Music from the Eighties and Nineties (Unseen Worlds)


Tohru Aizawa Quartet – Tachibana Vol. 1 (BBE)
Warren Sampson – Traveller (Love All Day)
Alvin Curran – Canti e Vedute del Giardino Magnetico (Superior Viaduct)
Catherine Christer Hennix – Selected Early Keyboard Works (Empty)
Larry Chernicoff – Gallery of Air (Incidental Music)


Beverly Glenn-Copeland – Beverly Glenn-Copeland (Super-Sonic Jazz)
The Ivytree – Unburdened Light (Recital)
Alan Braufman – Valley of Search (The Control Group)
Andreolina – An Island In the Moon (Aguirre)
Various Artists – Unusual Sounds (Anthology)


Various Artists – Antipodean Anomalies (Left Ear)
Various Artists – Switched On Eugene (Numero Groups)
Various Artists – Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 (Music from Memory)
Sebastian Gandera – Le Raccourci (Efficient Space)
Peter Kardas – I Saw You (Yoga)

Alright, full disclosure, the following two albums are directly linked to the show. More specifically, directly linked to Steve. But because he doesn’t like to do much self-promotion, I will (Carr here). The first is his newly released cassette under the name Omni Gardens. Some seriously sublime shit right there. Next up, is an album released on Steve’s awesome label, Moon Glyph, on cassette that later this year got the vinyl treatment. IE, based out of Minneapolis, made an excellent album of hypnotic minimalism. Check that shit out!