HELP US KEEP REPORTING. DONATE TO ORLANDO WEEKLY PRESS CLUB.

GRUNGY GLOBALISM 


It appears that Alan Bishop is doing a marvelous job of turning himself from a guitarist in an avant-garde rock band (Sun City Girls) into a 21st-century Alan Lomax. Every few months, another batch of new releases issues forth from his Sublime Frequencies label, and every time that happens, a window is opened into faraway corners of the world.

Except that, unlike Lomax, Rich seems to be completely unconcerned with documenting anything other than a particular country's place in time right now, with the help of a "collective of explorers" who gather up musical bits from all over. Thus, all of the Sublime Frequencies discs are imbued with a trashy immediacy that's as much fuzz guitars and crappy keyboards as it is plastic bags and dirty streets. There's no delicacy or preciousness to these releases, nor is there any pretense of cultural comprehensiveness; each disc is just an explosively loud snapshot of the real sounds of the streets. And they're completely incredible.

The most recent clutch of discs lives up to SF's high standards of low tourism. The no-budget documentary DVD filmed just eight months ago in Niger is a stunning piece of seat-of-the-pants filmmaking that's as much about music as it is about the wrenching poverty that's rampant in that country; but it's also funny.

Politics obviously get tied up in some of these releases, but not in the way that you might think. Radio Pyongyang is filled with snippets of music so saccharine and catchy (and, yes, bizarrely funky) that it's impossible to believe how much of it is propaganda. On the other hand, the music found on the Iraq disc is seemingly fraught with political import ("Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me"), yet the disc is giddy and good fun, containing multiple styles of Iraqi music: choubi, bezikh, basta and, of course, "socialist folk-rock."

It's the twangy garage-pop blast of Guitars of the Golden Triangle that's the most amazing of these four releases. The disc beautifully demonstrates the unusual pleasures that can be drawn from listening to the translation of rock & roll into a local dialect. When a performer like Lashio Thien Aung actually deserves a nickname like "The Burmese Texan," you know you're in for something good.

Various Artists
Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar, Vol. 2

Choubi Choubi! Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq

Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom

Niger: Magic & Ecstasy in the Sahel DVD
(Sublime Frequencies)

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 27, 2020

View more issues

Calendar

© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation