Have you ever gotten fed up with the vague-orientalism of your standard New Age album? Have you ever listened to a Hearts of Space release and thought, “OK, I’m pretty sick of hearing about seasons, oceans, white people’s conception of ‘Africa,’ forests, and rain-forests. What other themes were they exploiting?” Have you ever wanted to open a Reki tent in a Louisiana Swamp? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Tom Newman’s Bayou Moon is for you.
Continuing the rich tradition of theme albums on New Age labels, Bayou Moon is a weird and wonderful take on Cajun, Blues, and Zydeco music. It combines the basic motifs of these genres with occasional moments of Berlin-School synthesis, reverb drenched guitars, ominous bass progressions, and the occasional jaw-harp. The first track “Concerto De Mango in E-major” sounds someone tried to adapt Vangelis’ Antarctica (1983) for the bayou part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
Brooding ambient tracks like “Moonrise” and “Straw Dogs” are excellent listening, but for me the upbeat and jangling track “Gumbo Fling” takes the proverbial cake [or gumbo]. Though I constantly grapple with my love of this kind of New Age music and its issues of appropriation and essentialization [more on this in the near future], Bayou Moon is quirky, refreshing, and adventurous in a that way many themed New Age albums aren’t. Side note, Tom Newman is incidentally the guy who produced Mike Oldfield’s classic album Tubular Bells.
This is the perfect album for your next paddle down the Mississippi, documentary on the everglades, or just sitting around in your living room. Enjoy!
Gumbo Fling I:
Concerto De Mango in E-major: