Sublime Frequencies is that rare label that manages to help keep historical traditional music alive, while also having an ear for good music. Their releases are not mere archival pieces for one to listen to appreciatively, and keep any comments as to the quality of the music to oneself. They have a genius for showing the soul of the regional rhythms they uncover, and this is one of their best. ?Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos? is bursting with rhythms and vocal phrasing that are still current in the pop of Laos and Thailand. Recorded in remote villages, in the Xekong, Champasak and Atteneu provinces by Laurent Jeanneau, much of this music was unknown even within Laos, which makes its echoes in today?s more popular song all the more amazing.
Local variations of the guitar and other strung instruments, as well as gongs drums propel the folk rhythms, which at times have a certain blues or even funk tone, if I can use my own frames of reference here. But it is the singing, often sung poetry, that provides the most powerful and poignant moments, when we get a glimpse at how much this music must mean to those who play it, and its place in local history and storytelling.
?Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos? comes with extensive liner notes and translations of the seventeen song titles. This is a great release for history and soul buffs alike. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (15 January, 2008)