Various - Princess Nicotine: Folk And Pop Sounds Of Myanmar (Burma) LP
Label: Sublime Frequencies
Princess Nicotine is a compilation that predates the inception of Sublime Frequencies. It was first published in 1994 by the exceptional imprint Majora, with nothing in the way of liner notes, track listings or even any origin to the musical wonders found within. All evidence pointed to Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls being the curator of this collection of Burmese music from the past five decades. That information (and much more) became verified when he reissued the album through Sublime Frequencies. Even if you're not all that familiar with Burmese music, you'll find this compilation truly weird and wonderful. Unlike the handful of Burmese releases on other world music labels, this is something else entirely, a completely raw and unfettered, whole grain Burmese sonic assault. In other words: it's absolutely manic. At its most insane, it's akin to taking your standard, off-the-wall Bollywood arrangement and running it through a prog rock or free jazz filter. Nasal double reed instruments parallel vocal lines, clashing cymbals emphasize every beat, while the pat wain (a set of rice paste tuned drums which encircle the performer) smacks out its own melody like a set of out of tune roto-toms. On the mellower side of things there's strange hallucinogenic Appalachia featuring sudden bursts of piano, interjecting banjo, violin, flute, horn and most oddly: sultry female vocals offset by distorted male vocals. There's also hazy semi-Hawaiian psychedelia, with piano and keyboards pounding out the occasional random chord progression. So intense, and unique and utterly amazing. If you have to chose just one record to blow your mind, this could very well be the one.