Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Esquivel

By Devin D. O'Leary

DECEMBER 7, 1999: 

Esquivel, See It In Sound (BMG)

When I first picked this album up, I thought, "Dammit, not another Esquivel compilation! When are they gonna release more of his original albums?" Well, shut my mouth! It is an original album -- and an unreleased one at that. Seems that the pioneer of Space Age Bachelor Pad Music cut this experimental disc back in 1960 for RCA records. Apparently, the top brass found it "too weird" and refused to release it. Amazing! Their loss is our gain, though, as See It In Sound proves (yet again) what a sonic pioneer Señor Esquivel really was.

Detailed liner notes from Lounge Magazine head swinger Sam Wick compare this long-lost disc to such "found sound" classic as Zounds! What Sounds! by Dean Elliot and La Dolce Hencke by Mel Hencke. Although Esquivel does incorporate a battery of strange sound effects into this unusual cocktail-hour concept album, it owes a far greater debt to the rich soundscapes of Exotica pioneer Martin Denny. Whereas Elliot and Hencke tossed out an arsenal of bizarre sound samples in nutty Spike Jones-style, Denny used natural sounds to create a sort of musical travelogue (as in his classic mood opera Quiet Village).

Although Denny stuck largely to South Seas ports of call, Esquivel jet-sets the world for See It In Sound. We've got a marching band and a cheering crowd following the brave matador in "Walk to the Bull Ring." "Inca's Dream" peppers a lush pan flute melody with the gunfire of an approaching army. The high point, though, is the epic samba tune "Brazil." As the familiar tune plays, Esquivel takes us in and out of several crowded nightclubs, each playing the song in a different Latin tempo. We hear the giggling of B-girls, the honking of taxis, the clink of ice in cocktail glasses and -- ultimately -- a knock-down, drag-out bar brawl. "Zounds! What Sounds!" indeed.

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