Introducing a new compilation entitled From These Shores, the otherworldly sound of softly psychedelic, cosmic folk and psych from Hawaii.
Spanning the 1960s throughout the 1980s, From These Shores offers curious finds from every corner of the Hawaiian Islands — from the North Shore of Oahu (Gordon Broad) to the streets of Honolulu (Burgess & Brooks), the spiritual escapes of Maui (Merrell Fankhauser) to the spirited efforts of Bahá'í musicians (East Of Midnight), the low-key lounges of Waikiki (Dennis Soares) to the disappearing beaches of Puna (Alice Wise).
The path since 2016, when we released our first compilation, with Strut Records, has taken AGS through the many pockets of music from Hawaii: the electronic, "new age" sound of ÆOLUS, the multi-layered jazz-reggae dubs of Jah Gumby, the modern funk of FRNT BZNZZ, and most recently the acrhival exploration of Kit Ebersbach's long-standing career, which begins with a live recording of soul-jazz from 1974.
No matter the style, genre or generation, the music on AGS is characterized by its depth and soul, as well as its relation to Hawaii. From These Shores proves no exception from the outset.
Waves wash ashore on the opening of "High Tide" by Eddie Suzuki, an instrumental lounge-psych tune that transports the listener to this otherworldy place in the middle of the Pacific.
Sunstroke sets in with "Reb'll Message", a spoken-word psychedelic jam that beckons for a breakbeat, but instead just continues to heat things up as Richard Reb'll speaks:
Now that you've listened, please understand. Behind every smile, loneliness stands. To understand, to touch, to give with faith, will do so much for the human race.Richard Reb'll – "Reb'll Message"
"Revelation," discovered on a defunct private press label called Genesis Records, turns out to be an anti-nuclear song written after protests took place in the streets of downtown Honolulu, inspiring up songwriter Jeff Burgess to write, and later record alongside his musical partner Bill Brooks, "Revelation" with the help of Phil Keat and Peter Moon's backing band.
Over on the Big Island, the mysterious Mofoya took a break from the psych rock jams on their album to softly praise the "Magic Sands" of the Kona coast. Released on Kona Gold records, the band's Send A Message LP leaves enough room for two of these wondrous interludes.
East of Midnight's uplifting contribution belongs to The New World, perhaps one of the first Baha'i TV series made in the U.S., and was accompanied by a soundtrack pressed to vinyl.
On the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the beauty of Kaimu attracted residents to its shores until 1990 when eruptions from Kilauea blanketed the beach. Can another song about Kaimu be so gorgeous as this one? While there's a chance today — Kaimu beach has slowly returned since then — perhaps Alice Wise's dedication is the most beautiful.
Far from overcrowded Waikiki Beach resides Denny Guy, a mainlander who arrived in Hawaii by way of Japan in the late 1960s. Guy has called the middle of the Pacific his home ever since, and composed the solemn, driving sound of "Say You'll Be With Me" and other tracks on the shores of Oahu's beaches for his 1972 debut.
The prolific songwriter and serial entrepreneur Gordon Broad longs for her lover, lamenting loneliness with the universe as witness in his the 7-minute tale, "Righteous Morning" until it slowly reaches its climatic closing, with Broad coming to a realization:
"Righteous morning, I never thought that I would see a righteous morning.... And so I rest my bag upon the ground, and then I start to look around, and Lord, there was the sun."Gordon Broad – "Righteous Morning"
Reb'll resurfaces again, with his instrumental Reb'll Echo.
Sitting at the edge of Waikiki was a steakhouse where Dennis Soares and Rudy Grau filled the air with soft, echoing acoustic ballads like "In Hawaii", a personal dedication to the islands that tourists could easily relate to.
The epic of "Waves" tosses us into a tumultuous ocean current, into an outcry of strings, salt spray and electrified guitars. Harry Sonoda was mostly a folk songwriter guided under Don Ho's wing, but teamed up with Los Angeles's Jimmie Haskell when he recorded his second album, Tiny Little Star, to create this cathartic, purifying sonic experience.
Following the success that his band, Mu, found in 1970 with its debut album, Merrell Fankhauser moved to the island of Maui in 1973 in pursuit of the legendary lost continent of the same name, Mu. No strangers to the stranger side of this world's mystic wonders, Fankhauser recorded another Mu album in 1974 and, before returning to California, dedicated a solo album to the island: Maui, released in 1976.
Genre-defying Lyle K'ang worked alongside producer and musician David Kawika Crowley to record at least four songs in the 1970s, including the groovy "How Many Times", which might sit comfortably alongside the 2016 Aloha Got Soul compilation, but instead bookends our story of From These Shores with sounds from a sweeping organ and flutes fading in the distance.
For the past three years, we've sifted the sands of Hawaii’s rich musical past to lift these under-appreciated gems from obscurity, giving each song a chance to once again enjoy the slow burning warmth of the sun before drifting off towards the horizon.
"If your heart is set on going for a day, listen to me, my friend and what I am gonna say. When you feel you need a change from a day's routine, head towards Puna side, I know you know just where I mean. The skies are blue, the ocean rushes through, where people ease their mind is where I'm taking you..."