Lua-O-Milo: The Exotic Sounds of Skip Heller (Dionysus Records)
Exotica. The term brings images and sounds of a cocktail party simmering just below out-of-hand. And while many a party may have been driven by this soothing, yet curiously upbeat art form, a hell of a lot of work goes into each piece. As Mr. Heller describes in his liner notes (well worth the few minutes), each song is carefully composed well before any thought about booking studio time, "Les (Baxter) and Bob (Drasnin) wrote the stuff out, so do I." Well, he should know since he’s been playing with Mr. Drasnin for years.
Lua-O-Milo was born of a commission by Greg Maletic for his film Tilt: The Battle To Save Pinball. Each piece has been rearranged more fully for the album (there are a few demos from the movie as bonus tracks,too). I’m finding I really like it. I’m so far over my head in terms of engaging in any serious criticism and basically threw out any pretense of such about ten minutes ago. Let’s just say that it’s quite pleasing to hear real bass clarinet, vibraphone(DJ Bonebrake—The Knitters), harp, and the other many lovely instruments such as Mike Dubin’s homemade (by his grandfather) percussion instruments. Yes, this falls under the category of "Easy Listening," and it’s too damn bad that pigeonhole’s been stuffed with so much schlock over the years that the real art and artists who would helpfully be classified there can often be overlooked. Skip Heller is a fine composer.
This is an excellent addition to your ipod or whatever you use, and don’t be surprised when a cut comes up on shuffle and you flip the switch over to hear just one more track…
Lua-O-Milo, copyright 2009 Skip Heller, Dionysus Records, www.dionysusrecords.com, $12.99