May 20 2011: Maori by The Tony Hatch Sound (Pye, 1965)

A sort of follow-up to the Yma Sumac post the other day, this 1965 single by the Tony Hatch Sound is a late-stage Exotica effort built around fabricated Maori chants and percussion: another post-war fantasy soundscape evoking lost and distant places. In Sven A. Kirsten’s excellent The Book of Tiki (Taschen, 2000) the author traces the origins of this 1950s strain of ‘Polynesian Pop’ to the experience of American troops returning from the South Pacific after World War Two. A couple of quotes near the book’s beginning suggest a context it seems hard to argue with: that the Tiki was first, “an alien in the world of plastic and chrome”, an exotic eruption in a society that was becoming increasingly technocratic  in nature. Then there’s Picasso’s comment: “Good taste is a dreadful thing: taste is the enemy of creation”. In this way, it seems the Tiki – however commercialised its circulation became – was always a disruptive force. That examples of Polynesian Pop were still being made in the UK nearly 20 years after the war’s end (and well beyond – a significant and continuing revival of Exotica took place in the 1990s) suggests that the Tiki taps into something a little deeper than the retro fifties kitsch its carved – and often fearsome – visage is usually used to evoke.

Click on the link to hear a soundfile of the 45:  Tony Hatch Sound: Maori (Pye, 1965).

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