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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Various Artists

By Bruce Miller
Published August 22, 2008

Radio Myanmar (Burma)
Sublime Frequencies

Much like Sublime Frequencies’ North Korea set Radio Pyongyang, this disc feels less like a collection of music and more like a smuggled document with its snippets of state-controlled propaganda, military marches, baffling country & western stabs, classic-era Burmese composition (more of which is found on the label’s Folk And Pop Music Of Myanmar), covers of Western fluff and other hybrids too mixed-up to sum up in a word. Acting as a window into a closed country, and coming out as Burma is being ravished by cyclone damage, Radio Myanmar makes no apologies for the military government’s bent toward wreaking havoc on the lives of its people. And yet, a sampled clip here of “human rights” news (spoken in English, thanks to Britain’s former colonial rule) finds the announcer in a state of denial no different from that of the U.S. corporate news pundits who decide what average American citizens are allowed to hear. The opening military fanfare is enough to make a sensitive listener feel guilty for even eavesdropping, but once a few minutes have passed, this peculiar radio collage becomes meditative in its own disruptive fashion.