On previous album The Black Stone Affair LP – Whatitdo Archive Group was all about the sound of giallo and spaghetti western soundtracks but when you’ve pastiched those so effectively, whither next? Well, as anyone who’s been keeping an eye on recent singles will know, the destination arrived at on new album Palace Of A Thousand Sounds is very much Planet Exotica with musical influences ranging from the sounds of Tropicalia to North African Souks to Turkish bazaars as the spirits of Martin Denny, Les Baxter and Tak Shindo look on.
Not that the thirteen-tracker entirely looks backward though everything was recorded on analogue equipment in bandleader Alexander Korostinsky’s Reno studio. The band freely acknowledges (for example) the influence of peers The Menahan Street Band on first single Forbidden Cove which finds an orchestral Eastern melody wafting over a funky rhythm. They also reference the work of Oz outfit Surprise Chef on that single’s even more ‘cinematic’ flipside Cashmere Chamber. Then again, you might argue that the ouevres of both those bands is significantly rooted in the past. But Whatitdo Archive absolutely revel in recreating the musical past to an obsessive degree (in a good way) stopping at nothing, whether that be hiring an extra twenty musicians (including Shawn Lee) hiding sonic ‘Easter eggs’ within tracks that nod to particular works by (for example) Les Baxter and Juan Garcia Esquivel or just spending hours digging the exotica crates to achieve their ends.
Constructed as sound palace with different musical ‘rooms’ the LP is as sonically colourful as it’s exotic Arabian Nights-esque cover and is a delight to listen to from the opening melange of sub-tropical birdsong, mighty gong and vibraphone of the fifty-nine second long Enter The Palace intro to closer Forbidden Cove. Listen out also particularly for the sinuous psychedelia of Beyond The Crimson Veil, the dreamy exotica of Exotique and the eastern funk of Mirage.
(Out now on Record Kicks)