The Waitiki 7

World in Stereo: The Waitiki 7’s Waitiki in Hi-Fi

World in Stereo examines classic and modern world music while striving for a greater appreciation of other cultures.

The Waitiki 7: Waitiki In Hi-FiThe Waitiki 7: Waitiki in Hi-Fi (Pass Out, 4/12/11)

The Waitiki 7: “Ouanalao”

[audio:|titles=Waitiki 7: “Ouanalao”]

When Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill admitting Hawaii into statehood in 1959, Americans were living in a post-WWII United States, ready to forget and eagerly optimistic to start anew.  Though a standard history book will tell you that everyone was consumer-crazy and making a lot of babies, it won’t tell you that a large percentage of the populace was listening to exotica.

Borne out of Hawaii’s post-war music scene, exotica is marked by its lounge-like feel, a tropical summation of Pacific, Caribbean, and Latin sounds fused with American pop and jazz.  As a precursor to the modern world-music movement, artists like Martin Denny and Les Baxter introduced stateside audiences to new sounds and rhythms.  By the 1970s, exotica was snooze-worthy, stock-heavy pop, but a listen to the golden-era recordings exposes some groove-heavy material with plenty of progressive rhythms and dreamy, vibraphone-drenched melodies.

Fortunately, Oahu-based The Waitiki 7 has managed to steer clear from contrived kitsch to bring modern sensibility to exotica’s late-’50s to mid-’60s pinnacle sound.  As heard on its 2009 debut, Adventures in Paradise, and on the 2010 follow-up, New Sounds of Exotica, the septet builds on Latin-jazz foundations with an ear for vintage and retro qualities.  Now the band is releasing a set of alternative studio takes from both records with Waitiki in Hi-Fi, a vinyl-only release that will have you dusting off that vintage Crosley record player.