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Clouseaux

Lagoon! (Dionysus Records)

Houston's very own Tahitian treat continues with, ahem, "Samoa" of its patented "tiki-lounge-exotica" sounds. Clouseaux remains the most cinematic-sounding band in town; the "Rapa noir" mood of Lagoon!can make even Galveston's familiar brownwater shores seem like something out of The Island of Dr. Moreau, or at least The Island of Dr. Hibbert.

This is the narcotic soundtrack for the luau of your fever-dreams -- cool vibe solos dissipate amid saxophone humidity and eerie "ooh-ooh" choruses hang ten on swelling waves of immaculate bass, piercing guitar and the huge percussion section led by Claudio Depujadas. Steve Ruth's trumpet brings an occasional Spanish tinge to the feast.

This is an album of music, not songs -- there are no words, and a sameness of spooky-cool mood prevails throughout. It would be easy to brand this as very cool background music and have done with it, but the hyperintelligent arrangements and stellar musicianship won't quite let you off that easy. This haunting, tiki-heads-in-the-firelight album will bring out the cannibal in every vegetarian, the headhunter in every pacifist, the Polynesian island-hopper in every landlubber.

 
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