Listen: Sublime Frequencies – Radio India
July 29, 2008
Yesterday, I acquired a copy of Radio India: The Eternal Dream Of Sound. This is the 14th “compilation” to come from Sublime Frequencies, a label that scours the world in search of obscure music (and sounds). The reason for my use of quotations on the word “compilation” is that Radio India is far from your normal compilation. First of all, there are no artist names whatsoever, these sounds are only a document of another world. This in itself is an interesting concept that has been quite controversial for Sublime Frequencies; should world music be presented as a lesson in foreign cultures or should it only be displayed as a document for the listener to “study”? Sublime Frequencies chooses the latter. By only cluing the listener into which city these sounds were recording (directly from the radio), Sublime Frequencies creates a unique listening experience in which the listener is completely unbiased. This idea of “green” listening is made even more interesting when a song suddenly skips into another, a technique that Sublime has been using on all of it’s radio recordings.
As for the music, it lives up to Sublime’s own description as an “amazing collection of audio art”. The first disc contains mostly music-only excerpts from radio stations ranging from New Delhi (Radio Delhi) to Kolkata (Radio Calcutta). These excerpts cover an incredible range of genres, such as folk, disco, odd Bollywood jams, and good ‘ol classical sitar music. The second disc contains a more experimental mix of DJs, commercials, music, and radio sounds which create a feeling of closeness to India, while the radio static creates a feeling of distance.
I’d highly recommend this as a jumping point into Indian music, or as a supplement for a seasoned veteran.