I Am Just A Pupil - Family Dollar

I came across I Am Just A Pupil's tape 12 Hours FULL RELAXATION a few weeks ago when my tastes were at an intersection of glitchy, restless electronica and placid, minimalist composition. Described by label 1080p as "New Age / Comedy", the tape weaves together ambient and impressionistic music with chaotic and comedic vocal samples. Album opener is a conversation between a child and Siri, warped by vocal manipulation and set to a soundtrack of new-age pan-flutes. The album's second - and strongest - track is 'Family Dollar', a Satie-esque piece enhanced by samples of what appear to be a domestic argument and a Youtube gun review. I think Hank Hill even makes an appearance. The piece is slowly submerged in reverb, as rounds of bullets are fired and cicadas come to a rest. It is strangely affecting, the beauty of the music juxtaposed by its decontextualised violence. Balanced and thoughtful, the music reaches a sincerity that so much post-modern, web 2.0 music fails to realise. I was, and still am, very taken by this track - by how harmonious its dissonance is and how sensitive it is in its absurdity.

Label: 1080p
Year: 2015
Genre: Ambient, New Age, Electronica, Experimental, Comedy

Alem Kebede - Shemma Tal

I picked up this CD (Akelaletew) in the small and charming Kukulu Market in Edgewater, Chicago last week. The shop had about a dozen different albums stocked under the counter in a glass cabinet, and the shopkeeper guided me through the various titles. He explained to me that younger generations don't have much interest in oldies music and so was pleased and a little surprised when I pointed out the Alemayehu Eshete CD that I wanted to add to my basket. For balance I also bought a Ketema Mekonnen album (traditional music performed on krar) and the Alem Kebede album (a new release by a younger artist) featured here. This song, Shemma Tal, is the album's opener. It kicks off with a synth ostinato that pops up throughout the track and buries itself in the memory of the listener. Synthesised horns weave in and out of Kebede's vocals, themselves treated with a panned delay that makes the melody all the more mind-bending.

Label: Nahom
Year: 2015
Genre: Ethiopian pop

Prum Manh - Two Wives Are Twice The Trouble

Prum Manh is a Cambodian comedian whose act typically involves stand up in the form of conversations with another performer interspersed with musical humour. This recording is included on the Sublime Frequencies release Cambodian Cassette Archives. The following is from the album's liner notes:
"This collection was culled from over 150 ravaged cassettes found in Oakland, California at the Asian branch of the Public Library during the late 1990s and early 2000s... the Public Library's collection of tapes served the local Khmer community during the 1980s and early 1990s. They were found in various stages of disarray and decomposition in a drawer... a considerable amount of audio restoration was required."

Label: Sublime Frequencies (reissue)
Year: 198?, 2004 (reissue)
Genre: Khmer Pop, Rock N Roll