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Various Artists — A Beginners Guide to Sublime Frequencies, Vol 1 & 2
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-03-19

A Beginners Guide to Sublime Frequencies, Vol 1 & 2 Cover art

So, is this a High Castle Teleorkestra album? The short answer is no. It’s essentially a massive Various Artist compilation spanning two CDs focusing on some of the releases on the Seattle-based Sublime Frequencies label, owned and operated by Alan Bishop (of Sun City Girls) and Hisham Mayet. The label’s focus is essentially traditional, folk, and popular recordings from around the planet, mostly from countries and cultures that are typically under-represented in the Western palette of popular music as we tend to know it — European and American popular music and that of other countries that have been largely influenced by it. For example, if one opens the Sublime Frequencies website, the first thing you will see (as I write this) is the image of the album covers of Phương Tâm’s Magical Nights - Saigon Surf Twist & Soul (1964-1966) and Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band’s Sonbonbela. How they describe themselves is “a collective of explorers dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers.” I quote because I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Presently, the Sublime Frequencies label has close to 200 releases, CDs, DVDs, downloads and more. So what does High Castle Teleorkestra have to do with this? Two members of HCT (Tim Smolens and Chris Bogen) are big fans of the label, and curated this two-plus hour 45 track compilation of the tracks that they felt would a good point of entry into the label’s vast catalog of music, with the full authorization of Sublime Frequencies, although best I can figure is that it’s only been made available as a download. They have focused mainly on (but not exclusively on) instrumental numbers from the so-called “Golden Era” of recorded music, that being the 60s and 70s. For most of the pieces, the artists are listed on the accompanying PDF, but in some cases you’ll run across things like “Tourist Barong Gamelan” by Unknown Artist, which are basically field recordings made at the night performances on the island of Bali, as an example; but that doesn’t in any way diminish the power and beauty of said pieces. There is music from Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, various pockets of Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Mali, Niger, South America, Madagascar, Syria, Mauritania, and many more; all are unique examples of cultures far and wide, and if you are like me, listening to this world music only makes you more interested in sourcing other recordings from the same cultures and exploring further. My only question: Will there be a Vol. 3 and 4?

Filed under: Archives, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Various Artists

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