Guitars of the Golden Triangle
||CHOUBI CHOUBI! FOLK & POP SOUNDS
RADIO PYONGYANG: COMMIE FUNK & AGIT POP
||"Commie Funk?" Unknown
GUITARS OF THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE: FOLK & POP MUSIC OF MYANMAR
||"Lake Thay Mah Shoke" Saing Saing Maw
It's always a thrill to see what countries are next on the Sun
City Girls' agenda as they globetrot and loose new titles on their
world music imprint, Sublime Frequencies. But nothing is quite
so "taken from today's headlines" as this most recent
batch. In the most recent issue of LA-based free-thought mag,
Arthur, Sublime-curator Alan Bishop put it thusly: "Don't
be fooled by the fear patrol out there who say that terror is
only a minute away. It's all an illusion
The fear of terror
being spread is a tactic employed as a mirage to keep the herd
from experiencing phenomena beyond the pasture."
Perhaps that would explain the inclusion of two titles which
document the brutally repressed and hidden cultures of both Iraq
and North Korea. Choubi Choubi! is the name of an explosive,
highly rhythmic musical form in Iraq, and documents the music
made during the reign of Saddam Hussein. There's the appearance
of folky Ja'afar Hassan, who sings songs that glorify the socialist
agenda that the Baathists would embrace on their rise to power.
Fans of ragga, rough world beats, and Timbaland productions will
no doubt find the choubi rhythms to be phenomenal: all staccato
outbursts that mingle the electronic with the hand-drummed on
songs by artists like the masked female yelper, Bawin, as well
as many more unknown singers of the day.
Radio Pyongyang is equally beguiling as it stares into
the eyes of "our enemy," an aural document that compliments
things like Guy Delisle's recent graphic novel about North Korea.
It resembles Sublime Frequencies' previous, more dream-oriented
shortwave radio collages, but has its main component far more
grounded. It's shocking at the quality of Kim Jong-il appraising
agit-prop in its myriad forms of state-approved splendor. Squiggly
synths, stately military opera, choir chants, pop-balladry, and
Pyongyang funk parade past in honor of "Fatherly Leader."
Every once in awhile, the real Radio Pyongyang emerges out of
the squeaky propaganda machinery, and a chilling voice tells us
about the greatness of the Kims.
Last but not least, itself a slightly destabilized country in
its own right, the second volume exploring the music of Myanmar
(Burma) continues the stunning trajectory set out by Princess
Nicotine. This time, it focuses on the fretwork of ridiculously
obscure musicians like Lashio Thein Aung, Khun Paw Yunn, and Saing
Saing Maw, the sound this time featuring more of that crunchy
garage style that fans of the Thai Beat A-Go-Go comps will
love. Another great batch from the Sublime folks. [AB]