Review by Jason Croft
Houston, Texas would seem like a strange place to find one of the swankest new exotica/space-age pop groups out there, but that’s home base for the talented tiki outfit Clouseaux. In their latest release, Lagoon! (Dionysus Records), the combo proves that exotica is strictly a state of mind. They’ve poured equal parts Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Arthur Lyman, Henry Mancini, Combustible Edison and Don Tiki into a bar blender and hit puree, then added a splash of surf guitar, tossed in a couple of cubes of prog rock, garnished with an umbrella, and served it all up in the coolest tiki mug they could find.
Clouseaux’s music is filled with that wonderful mix of hi-fi happiness and savage jungle sophistication. It’s epic and playful all in the same breath. There’s a frantic energy that pulsates from every track. Their jungle is one of exotic beauty and sizzling sensuality, but also a place of hidden danger where mystery lurks behind every palm tree. Picture a Moai head surrounded by dancing island girls all singing for you during the climax of a torch-lit ritual while headhunters hide in the background.
The album really comes alive on the tracks “The Kiss of Ku,” “Krakatoa,” and “Noctopia.” Earlier versions of some songs, like “Reum with a View,” “A Most Excellent Flying Death” and the afore-mentioned “Krakatoa,” appeared on Clouseaux’s self-titled debut. However, their Lagoon! versions seem more fleshed-out and developed. They also reveal a stylistic shift between that first album and the current one,an evolution between the space-age side of things to the exotica one. This happened during their E.P. Destination: Oasis, which also features a lot of the Lagoon! material and is well worth searching out.) With Lagoon!, Clouseaux have truly found their tiki spirit–their Aku-Aku if you will–and we are all the better for it.