Miles Copeland from Wonderfulsound is back with another recommendation, making sure to keep things upbeat and suitable for the summer. We loved his previous tip-off of Eddie Chacon, so we look forward to many more albums being served up to us by our man in the know.
Eden Ahbez's Dharmaland performed and arranged by ÌxtahueleMoving to California from Brooklyn via Kansas in the 40s, Eden Ahbez (pronounced Abi) lived under the first 'L' of the Hollywood sign and is credited for writing Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy'. Ahbez became part of the raw food vegetarian scene, practiced yoga way back in the mid 40s and could often be found walking in white robes and sandals. It’s no surprise then that Eden was deemed as one of the first hippies! His one and only solo LP 'Eden's Island' (1960) is now considered a holy grail record of all things Exotica, Beatnik, Easy Listening, but with it selling poorly Ahbez retired his frontman status.
It was not until 2017 while researching a documentary about Eden Ahbez, scholar Brian Chidester uncovered a cache of sheet music in Washington DC's Library of Congress that Ahbez had copyrighted between 1961-1963. It seems that Ahbez carried on writing...
To interpret the score found in the Library, Swedish band Ixtahuele - purveyors of Exotica in their own right - were called upon. They went about inviting friends and former collaborators of Ahbez to perform on the track, along with introducing current artists such as Psychedelic Soul singer Kadhja Bonet. Ixtahuele present this long lost score as a double LP of beautiful orchestral tropical lounge music, afro Cuban rhythms and deep poetic sentiment exporting us to tropical island of "Dharmaland".I remember seeing this style of music (Martin Denny or Les Baxter) littered in the bargain bins of Southern Californian record shops. Then the 90s London Easy Listening scene coined the phrase Batchelor pad music and lumped it all into the Easy Listening & tongue-in-cheek Beatnik world. So, it's refreshing to be transported back to the lazy grooves and world of Exotica!
When Ixtaheule members were posed the question "what does Dharmaland look like?" the response is "Dharmaland is a state of mind!" If we can't get off to distant lands this summer, this LP will at least transport you to imaginary 100 degree heat in faraway places.