Jay Gordon
Music From Another World






One thing is for sure: the guy on the front artwork is no bachelor, and thus we won’t receive bachelor pad-compatible music within the endogenic boundaries of Jay Gordon’s Music From Another World, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from knowing about the album’s existence, with a possible investigation of its polyhedric nucleus. Released in 1957 on the low-budget label Tops Records, it features the expected 12 symphonic encounters, but a few intriguing surprises are sewn in for good measure, ones which let the Exotica fan’s interest peak for a moment or two. More about them as the review progresses. Mixing unique compositions with classics of the genre, Jay Gordon and his orchestra are appropriately equipped in terms of instrumental prowess: strings, horns and woodwinds the listener shall absorb.


No weird gadget is injected into the versatile arrangements, this trip is not so far out as the elliptic fractals of the front artwork want the potential buyer to believe, but there’s one great force to reckon with that ennobles Music From Another World despite its false promises and marketing-related ploys: coherence. In lieu of sudden turbulences, picturesque quiltings or otherworldly plasticizers, Jay Gordon tends to erect an array of quasi-romantic tunes. This disappointment turns into a chance eventually, for the melodic core makes for a reliable ledger within a record of “jet-propulsion, man-made satellites,” or in short: Music From Another World.


Bumblebee strings which morph into drones; polyphonous brass stabs that are coupled with glockenspiel glitters. The mood? Exciting yet semi-mournful. From Another World is a multifaceted kick-off that opens up after the first minute where the cross-linkage of its ingredients translates into sky-high spiraling string concoctions and fluttering coruscations. With all these things in mind, one thing becomes clear: a true-bred Space-Age record Music From Another World is not. At least not yet. Deserted Ballroom, however, does feature a particularly glacial prefix with strings of ice, scything brass stabs and wildly whirling unvarnished pizzicato bursts, making the oscillation between lachrymose enchantment and chlorotic visions a successful endeavor. Even the stacked brass sinews during the apex evoke a certain B-movie charm. This may well be the greatest and spaciest inclusion of side A.


Prelude To Love meanwhile is a maudlin magenta mica of romance and euphony, all the while Dance Of The Elves is a similarly accessible piece of nocturnal flowerage. Mysticism is exchanged for – admittedly eclectic – string voids and pluvial woodwind vortexes. Afterwards, You Haunt Me returns to polyfoil rose-tinted hues as Jay Gordon allows the lactic rhizomes to unwind and ooze out of the speakers before Chant Of The Amazon revs up the cinematic angle in what seems to be a chlorotic flute-underlined rain forest. Twilight and uncertainty lead to majesty and celebration, then back to the abyss.


Side B is of the utmost interest to Exotica fans. I may exaggerate a bit, but I’m not lying, as said side features two classic gold standards of the genre, one of which opens the disc right away, or to be more precise, becomes part of a night reconnaissance triptych: Xavier Cugat’s Nightingale is ennobled here by segues and intersections that lead astray from Cugie’s original vision. That’s entirely fine, as the main aorta is followed through, the melody remains recognizable after all. The pale afterglow of the vibraphone and rufescent flitter of the whitewashed brass undercurrent do both genres, Space-Age and Exotica, justice and make this an aesthetically pleasing locale. Starlight Interlude connects to the tawny scenery but augments its viridian shimmer with viscid harps and mauve-tinted strings of love.


Nocturnal Mood rounds off the moonlit trio with orderly legato string cloudlets and enthralling serrations of the backing horns. Cyril Scott’s pre-Exotica classic Lotus Land is next, one of the greatest pieces ever written. Thankfully, Jay Gordon goes all-in and mixes a paradisiac flute with whispering woodwinds and helicoidal strings. That the flute is in the limelight is a great change of pace and makes a fragilely crystalline coppice out of the source material that merges Space-Age with Exotica after all. The adjacent March Of The Pink Elephants unsurprisingly succumbs to weirder tone sequences and feels like the background track to a cryptic Warner Bros. cartoon, before Intermezzo For A Day In May ends the album with a zestful aura of glissando, increasingly darkened string whooshes and many moments of auroral contemplation.


Jay Gordon’s Music From Another World is an album of two primary genres and one too many interstitial moods, although these traits are shared with lots of Space-Age albums. Here, it seems that they cannot unfold properly or in ways that are deemed weird enough for followers of cosmic music. Gordon makes up for it in terms of surprisingly cajoling and nearly ethereal superstructures of romance which lack the cheesy set of chords and rules. While compositions like Prelude To Love or You Haunt Me feature standardized sets of textures and polyphonies, they do prolong and nurture the moonlit aura of the music that is indeed noticeable throughout the album.


The front artwork probably promises things which are ultimately too bold, but rest assured that Music From Another World serves the fan of soothing Space-Age music best. It doesn’t venture into foreign galaxies, it more or less reverses its strategy and remains on Earth where Jay Gordon finds the opportunities to present both Nightingale and Lotus Land in persuasive interpretations. If you can accept the omission of convoluted electronics and labyrinthine melodies, Jay Gordon delivers a stringent tryst. At the time of writing, Music From Another World hasn’t been reissued yet and is therefore only available on its original vinyl carnation which unfortunately sounds fuzzy and muffled at times. However, since many artifacts released on Tops Records have been picked up by AMR Sinetone already, chances are that we will eventually see a release once all issues have been resolved. This LP, no matter how picayune it may seem, would be worth it.


Exotica Review 409: Jay Gordon – Music For Another World (1957). Originally published on Jan. 24, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.