SUBLIME FREQUENCIES COMMUNIQUÈ
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Roots World review of SF095 CD Radio Vietnam.
Which brings us to the latest in Sublime Frequencies' confounding, mapless, aural travelogues into “the other.” Like their other radio series recordings, Radio Vietnam is a jarring stew. Here we have politically charged transistor snippets, news in English, ESL lessons, Vietnamese electric slide street guitar, lo-fi, synth drenched pop not unlike the grooves from neighboring Cambodia and Thailand, and hit-and-run hunks of ethnic minority music that somehow got caught up in the mix. The track titles, as usual, only enhance the confounding collage. “Morning Exercise in the Coded Ether,” for example, starts with digital beats, but switches abruptly to what sounds like a Martian pronouncing doom over a zither and feedback, only to be interrupted by a young Vietnamese woman speaking about something made esoteric by its lack of context before some of the most gorgeous electric guitar balladry ever copped from radio appears. This then is interrupted again by water chimes, incantations, socialist radio and perhaps what truly is an exercise regimen. And all of this takes about five minutes.
To go through this track by track seems as futile as trying to alleviate US poverty while Republicans have control of government. On and on this collection goes, perhaps useless to Vietnamese in country, but likely a joy to the few expats to hear it. But for the audience this is no doubt aimed at, it's another blunt missive fired at an already media-saturated west from a label whose early novelty has long been replaced by some seriously profound collections. Whether or not this CD-only release finds itself amongst them doesn't really matter. Oh, and Woody Guthrie even appears for a millisecond.
- Bruce Miller