ASAC Presents Sublime Frequencies

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective presents Sublime Frequencies, film screenings and rare 78rpm records from around the globe from Ian Nagoski and Robert Millis.

Saturday June 20 @ 8pm
Upstate Artists Guild
247 Lark St.
$5 suggested donation

Ian Nagoski (Black Mirror/Canary Records/Mississippi Records)

Robert Millis (Climax Golden Twins/Victrola Favorites/Sublime Frequencies)

Rare and unseen Sublime Frequencies ( films will be screened, with the director in attendance. This very special night will appeal to music lovers, film buffs, world scholars, those interested in South Asia, history fiends, and anyone with an eye for the beauty of uncovered cultural treasures from around the globe.

I wrote about Ian’s last visit to the Capital Region here and look forward to hearing him again. Sublime Frequencies’s releases have provided consistent inspiration and enjoyment, particularly Radio Sumatra.


India at 78rpm
Folk and classical music in India through the lens of the largest private collection of 78rpm records and dusty ephemera on the sub-continent.

My Friend Rain
Decay and rebirth and death through the endless Asian monsoon cycle. A collage of musical segments and tropical ambiance from Robert Millis and Alan Bishop.

Phi Ta Khon: Ghosts of Isan
A traditional Buddhist ghost festival from Thailand’s Isan province that features beautiful handmade masks, outrageous wooden phalluses, ceremony, ritual, dancing, and endless music.

Year-end round-up let-down

I always enjoy reading best-of-the-year lists and thought I’d add to the glut. But looking through my music collection I realized how few new releases I bought this year. I simply can’t make a best-music-of-the-year list because I hardly heard anything released this year! A strange statement for a musician to make, but here’s why.

My music buying habits usually follow two, possibly contradictory patterns which I’ll call direct-from-the-source and bottom-feeding. Direct-from-the-source is from the artist herself. Go to the show, listen to the music, talk the artist, buy the CD. Or when I’m on the bill, I’ll often get another artist’s CD by trading one of mine. With the birth of my son at the end of 2006, I’ve attended and played far fewer shows than usual in 2007. Hence, fewer 2007 CDs to hear.

Bottom-feeding is my tendency to scour the used CD racks. Since moving from Austin to Albany, though, my selection of decent used CDs has plummeted. Luckily, there’s, my single biggest source of CDs for 2007. Of course, bottom-feeding results in far fewer new releases, though I picked up a handful at Amoeba Music in Berkeley.

So, I’m a cheap-skate and a shut-in. But I’m a music loving cheap-skate shut-in. A glance back at those iTunes stats shows I added over 9 days of music to my collection during 2007, and that doesn’t include some of the CDs I acquired but plan to trade away. I listened to more music than ever this year–apparently most of it was “The Song of the Long Tail.”

Those iTunes stats revealed another trend for 2007. If 2006 was the year of the music blog (keep ’em comin’ destination: OUT, Music for Robots, fluxblog, End(-)Of(-)World Music, UBUweb) then 2007 was the year of the free album. Radiohead’s In Rainbows was the most visible here, though I have yet to download it. I did enjoy albums from eDogm and insubordinations and free music standbys such as Steve Coleman and Bob Ostertag. Amiestreet was another reliable source for free or almost free music. And the great aggregator remains Free Albums Galore.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make more of my own albums available online for free. You’ll hear about it at the Field Guide when I do. And another resolution? How about I get out a little more in 2008?

The Black Mirror

I had the opportunity to hear Ian Nagoski speak about and play tracks from his recent CD, The Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Music (Dust-to-Digital). Calling it his “mix tape for the world”, the CD contains world music gems Nagoski culled from 78rpm recordings. The selections Ian played were amazing (some not included on the CD, unfortunately) and his commentary was engaging. He provided a capsule history of recorded music touching on topics that remain with us–media conglomerates, planned obsolescence of hardware and media, piracy and bootlegging, how the disembodied sounds of recordings still captivate us… I wish I could have stayed to the end.

I did, however, pick up a CD and have been especially enjoying “Nam Nhi-tu” performed by M. Nguyen Van Minh-con and “Smyrneiko Minore” performed by Marika Papagika. It’s been a while since a single CD has offered such a variety of listening surprises. Check out audio samples here.