Martin Denny was really responsible for the popularity of the format. Les Baxter came before him but Martin Denny took it to new realms and coined the name "exotica." It is a fantasy of what life might be like in far off places, all from the perception of America in the 1950's. It is innocent yet it adopts native instruments to create some American brand or idea of the music from far away places. In it's inauthenticity, it is like a book on Tarzan that delves into the realms of a mysterious land but makes up things where things would be more interesting that way. Animal sounds are concocted and "sung" by members of the band. Instruments are used to sound like animals and are played like instruments we already understand.. Instruments are played in ways that the native population of the land they came from would never play them. To me it is all rather relaxing from a period of time when we thought everything was under control and the world was just like us, just exotic.
I collect all kinds of this music because I know my Dad had at least 2 albums of it. And, therefore, despite all the music my dad and I did not have in common, we did have this in common. It is still hip, to me. Thank you Dad.