Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sublime Conversation

Last month, local ethnographic record label Sublime Frequencies released yet another batch of amazing field recordings from every corner of the world. The latest CD’s, “Ethnic Minority Music of North Vietnam,” “ "Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos,” and Music of Nat Pwe: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar Vol. 3 are extraordinarily weird and wonderful even by SF’s high standards.

The SF website describes Nat Pwe like so: “This is some of the most jarring, intense, and maniacal music being created on earth today. Your head will be spinning amidst the cranked reverb and echo of the vocals as they swirl like locusts in a floating graveyard as the bells, cymbals, and tuned metal bars crash and spill down an endless staircase while the hand drums and Hsaing-Wang circle of rhythm pound the beat in and out of a million twists and turns until you’ve either had enough or you get with the program. Turn it up and submit. This is what it’s ALL about, schoolboy!”

I had a chance to chat with label founder Hisham Mayet (pictured above) after this latest round.

Gurldoggie: How did Sublime Frequencies start and who started it?

Hisham Mayet: The label was started by myself, Alan Bishop and Richard Bishop [of Sun City Girls.] It was an extension of the many hours of recorded archives that had been building over many years from the various members travels. At first, it was small gatherings to show footage and hear music, then we set up a few screenings around town. When the response seemed favorable, we decided to go on a suicide mission and start a label dealing with esoteric and obscure ethnographic material.

GD: Who collects the recordings and how? Is anything actually licensed or is it all picked out of thin air? Do you ever try to contact the artists?

HM: There are many contributors working within the Collective. Alongside me and the Bishop Brothers, Mark Gergis, Robert Millis, Tucker Martine, and Laurent Jenneu have all been frequent contributors.

Anytime there is contact with a musician, they are paid handsomely. There have been releases that compile historic recordings, where we have not been able to find out who and where the original artists are. We release these compilations in hope that the original artists are rediscovered and brought out to be given the proper appreciation that they deserve.

GD: Has it been successful?

HM: It’s been successful enough to always perpetuate another release.

What's the next project?

HM: We have about a dozen new projects that are nearing completion.

GD: A tour perhaps?

HM: Perhaps.

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