Whatitdo Archive Group: “Astral-Desia”

Us at KUTX have never felt a need to shy away from our unabashed love of multi-national-inspired psych; a typical playlist of ours will usually pepper in some Adrian Quesada, Khruangbin, or Golden Dawn Arkestra, so today we’ve got great news for anyone with similar tastes.

It comes on behalf of Reno three-piece Whatitdo Archive Group, who shared their debut full-length The Black Stone Affair in April 2021. The tracks on The Black Stone Affair (like “Ethiopian Airlines”, “Last Train to Budapest”, and “Italian Love Triangle”) were fairly blunt about their international multiculturalism, almost like a spiritual successor to Duke Ellington’s The Far East Suite. Ultimately it was an outstanding first introduction to the vintage-soundtrack-ready jazz-adjacent instrumentals of this desert-dwelling trio, but with the release of their sophomore follow-up Palace Of A Thousand Sounds this morning, we can assure you that Whatitdo’s ascended into cinĂ©-psych royalty.

Down to its song titles and mystifying artwork, the beautifully-bizarre aesthetic behind Palace Of A Thousand Sounds picks where Martin Denny’s mid-century exotica left off. This thirteen-tune sequence ditches specific locations in favor of abstract, otherworldly scenes, a choice that complements Whatitdo Archive Group’s stronger emphasis on psychedelia this time around. Of course, for the authentic old-school experience, you’d better grab one of the limited-supply vinyls for your collection while they still last. But if you’re stuck in work mode and can’t take the full forty-three-minute tour right now, you can still bask in the psychoactive galactic glory of Palace‘s second lead single, “Astral-Desia”. Like thick incense smoke obscuring a telescope’s lens “Astral-Desia”‘s regal groove offers a Bohemian soundscape that’s ideal for both narrative voiceover and psychotropic meditations, as does its dozen other Palace counterparts.

Kolumbo: “The Key Club, 1976”

I’ve never been shy about my love of jazz, pretty much every style across the spectrum, save Dixieland (sorry, not sorry). One of my all-time favorite sub-genres out of that bunch is Exotica, the Latin-leaning, arrangement-driven “easy listening” style made famous by Martin Denny in the ’50s. Now, I know I’m far from the only Texan who loves Exotica; see for instance Dallas-born keyboardist Frank LoCrasto, whose citified upbringing made him yearn for the idiosyncratic mystique of tropical resorts. LoCrasto still lives the city life – in Brooklyn – where he’s eponymously released four solo albums and scored for television and film since the early ’00s. But to compensate for lack of sand and palm trees in his ongoing urban surroundings, LoCrasto has recently created a new project that fully embraces Exotica, Kolumbo.

LoCrasto serves as composer, arranger, and keyboardist for Kolumbo and conducted group sessions that averaged around a dozen players per track for his debut LP Gung Ho. An instant mood-setter, Gung Ho melds modern sensibilities with mid-century orchestral jazz-pop formulas for an eight-track experience that’ll make you want to go on vacation permanently. So fill a coconut cup with your favorite refreshment, toss on some shades and a straw hat, and sink into “The Key Club, 1976”.