Leo Diamond

Exciting Sounds from the South Seas

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The harmonica belongs to the group of instruments many people cannot take seriously, at least not outside of a predictable context, such as the blues or western themes. This latest in Leo Diamond's plan to bring credibility to this instrument is as unconvincing his previous efforts. Tackling the unlikely oeuvre of oceana-inspired tunes, he would have done well to listen to native recordings featuring harmonica-like instruments. Post-contact Tahitian music, for instance, includes the concertina, a diminutive cousin to the accordion and no less potentially jarring an addition to native instrumentation than the harmonica. But the Tahitians managed to work it in with the appropriate bamboo nose flute, coconut ukulele, log drum, and other instruments which preceded it. There is steel guitar and percussion in Exciting Sounds from the South Seas but not enough to alleviate the obnoxiousness of a string section. Diamond's one original, "Polynesian," the tune choices in general, and Loose's lackluster arrangements are underwhelming. There are "exciting sounds" and there is soporific easy listening; despite opportunity and any amount of technical novelty, Diamond's music never qualifies as the former.

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