In the 1950s and 60s, a new genre of music emerged called ‘Exotica’, named after Martin Denny’s album of the same name. Denny himself described the genre as being “a combination of the South Pacific and the Orient” but also that it was “pure fantasy”. That fantastical vision of exotic lands became popular with American middle-classes, especially those who grew up during World War II. It was an escape into paradise from the mundanity of everyday life.
Cristobal and the Sea, composed of expatriates from Portugal, Spain, France, Egypt and America but now based in London, are aiming to reclaim the term on their new album ‘Exitoca’. With it, they’re repurposing the term for those who most need it now; the many diasporas that have become scattered across the world, and those displaced by conflict, political strife or environmental issues.
On lead single ‘Goat Flokk’, they fuse together sounds from across the world, much like the melting pot that ‘Exotica’ presented. Here though, alongside the longing lyrics, we’re presented with a heady fusion of alt conventions not unlike Everything Everything, Brazilian tropicalia and, at its climax, an invigorating burst of Syrian pop (the Omar Souleyman vibes are strong with this one, and that’s never a bad thing). Whereas ‘Exotica’ appropriated the sounds of the Pacific and beyond and altered them to make them more accessible to a conservative audience, ‘Goat Flokk’ mixes its elements together with no desire to doctor them, presenting each influence in all its glory. The effect is a track that actively breaks down borders, presenting a truly gloablised vision of contemporary pop music that’s thought-provoking and completely glorious.