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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Christiaan Virant

By Tom Jackson
Published January 5, 2007

Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk And Agit Pop From The Hermit Kingdom
Sublime Frequencies

Continuing the thrift store aesthetic, Radio Pyongyang is an assemblage of “found sounds”—radio intercepts, field recordings, patriotic television dramas and so on—all mischievously reconstructed by compiler Christiaan Virant into a hallucinogenic, day-glo journey through the socialist wonderland of North Korea. In Virant’s late-night channel-hopping dreamscape, martial orchestras and stupendous choirs morph into baby-voiced novelty songs and po-faced announcers drown in a fondue of cheesy listening test-card gloop. Highly entertaining on first listening, it’s not really clear exactly what you’re meant do with this appealing but deeply odd record. One can only hope that the numerous individuals employed by Western governments to eavesdrop on the Axis of Evil are as roundly entertained by what they pick up as is the listener to these two delightfully recherché but totally accessible releases.