Earlier this week I received an email exotically entitled 'Bangkok kitchen'. The sender was my friend Paul who is living and working in Bangkok. It featured a photo of his kitchen. Domestic and exotic. The image featured a can of Leo beer ('Smooth and great taste'), alongside a home-made CD compilation that I put together away back in 2001. At that time there were a couple of club nights in Edinburgh with a playlist which might be described as a delicious cocktail of easy listening, exotica and lounge. From recollection, the CD pictured in Paul's debonair kitchenette included the songs that featured in those sophisticated nights at the Assembly Rooms, ABC Cinema and similarly lustrous venues.
Easy listening probably isn't the most sophisticated or significant chapter in the the story of popular music, however there's more to it than comfortable knitwear and safari suits. This, after all, is a genre that encompasses lounge, soundtracks and the strange world of Exotica. In Easy! The Lexicon of Lounge (Dylan Jones, 1997), RJ Smith describes exotica as 'a round-trip departing everyday for something more fabulous. It had the feel of distant places, but it took you to spots never before trekked by man'.
And so within a couple of days of receiving Paul's email I'm able to reply with this digital, cloud-based compilation that variously visits the Caribbean (Harry Belafonte, Monty Norman), Latin America (Astrud Gilberto, Walter Wanderley), Ye-Ye Paris (Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, Brigitte Bardot) and other far flung destinations. And through the power of digital technology, I'm also transported back to that exotic time and place that was turn of the century Edinburgh.
I am an ESRC-funded Doctoral student in the Centre for Research in Digital Education at The University of Edinburgh.