Thursday, December 11, 2003

Review - Radio Java

Artist: Various Artists

Posted on Thu, Dec 11, 2003 at 4:00 AM

If you've ever been to a place where white people and English are the exception, not the rule, you've no doubt experienced the taxicab epiphany. That's the one where you've got the windows rolled down (no A/C), you're stopped at something vaguely resembling an intersection and your cabdriver's blaring radio becomes intermingled with the blaring radios of roadside vendors, pedestrians and other automobiles. The resultant cacophony is, of course, completely foreign and inscrutable, but it's also completely hypnotic. All that different-ness, right there in one place, with no easy signposts and nothing remotely resembling the monochromatic thud that is American radio. The sad thing about the taxicab epiphany is that you can't bring it home. You can always take pictures of the monkeys in the streets or buy tchotchkes that remind you of the visit to the temple or tuck away a bottle of that radiator fluid your bartender called "local wine," but no matter how many CDs you score, nothing can recreate the dizzying musical thrill of the taxicab epiphany. The brilliant minds behind Radio Java, however, have come quite close though. This disc is roughly divided into eight parts, somewhat randomly recorded from the radio in Jakarta, Surabaya and other population red zones on Java. It's everything from traditional folk music and schmaltzy dramas to rock, pop, commercials and snippets of talk, and all of it's compiled and collaged into the same sort of hazy, indistinct, cacophonous effect that makes those taxicab moments so special.


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