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Out There

I don't hate music from all over the world. In fact, I love lots of that. But I hate the world music that goes in the world music section.
Κείμενο June Sprig

"I hate fucking World Music. (I don't hate music from all over the world. In fact, I love lots of that. But I hate the world music that goes in the world music section at Tower and HMV.) It's patronizing and ghettoizing, plus they don't even pick any of the good stuff.

World music is not new agey. It isn't touchy-feely. It isn't Epcot Center. It isn't anything—it is everything. Do you even know how many countries there are besides America? I don't feel like trying to Google it for you, but there are a ton, I'll bet. And each one of them has different music. Some of it sucks, some of it sounds familiar, and some of it—and this is the best part—is transcendentally beautiful.


This is where Mr. Alan Bishop comes in, along with his Sublime Frequencies label. Alan Bishop is the man who, with his brother Rick, founded the band Sun City Girls back in 1982. Since then, they have put out the most consistently far-out, weird, ecstatic, and elusive music that our country has ever produced. I have a policy that I cannot date someone who doesn't worship their watershed 1992 album

Torch of the Mystics

. Sorry, but dems the breaks. And I will know if you're faking it.

With Sublime Frequencies, Bishop is steadily building a library of archival recordings that can stand next to venerable projects like the Smithsonian's Folkways series and genuinely hold its own.

Bishop's field-recorded CDs full of street musicians, radio, and formal performances from places like India, Mali, Syria, and Thailand and compilations as totally insanely weird as Cambodian Cassette Archive (a volume of Cambodian pop from the last few decades) are systematically wresting away the deathgrip that crystal-wielding hippies have on music from faraway places.

VICE: You must be against the whole world music label.

Alan Bishop

: It's hard to get a grip on that term. If it's a marketing slogan for trying to get the Euro-American consumer to buy something that's meeting them halfway with foreign styles presented in a modern recording studio straitjacket (which is how the music industry seems to spin it), then it's all fucked. We really don't waste our time in that shit blizzard. What most people settle for in music is completely intolerable for me. I'm interested in true fucking weirdness. I want to hear music that chops people's brains to bits as it hails from the undisputed realm of good and evil in a maelstrom of judgment as a billion man-eating locusts. I want music that's baked in seductive ovens and served on a crumbling colonial mattress of swirling cobras distilled under a thousand consecutive moons of drone-erotic hip swivel. I want the most awe-inspiring beauty available.


Or, at the very least, I want honest music. I don't have much tolerance for controlled musical environments. Sublime Frequencies is on the hunt for eternal inspiration and renegade pre- and post-human expression. Have we succeeded yet? NO. But what we've released so far is the backdrop to our personal/endless search for the unattainable.

Jesus, you really talk like Sun City Girls liner notes. How did you get interested in recording? Were you inspired by a traditional thing like the Folkways stuff?

I got my first tape recorder when I was a kid. I started recording karaoke versions of Rick and I singing to records when I was seven years old. Then it got more twisted as I recorded our prank phone calls for years. I recorded our parents' arguments and friends' conversations without them knowing, TV dialogue, and compilations from the radio. Then I started writing my own folk songs and recording them.

The first international recordings I made were in Spain and Morocco in 1983. I began to record what I called "cut-up radio" there in the late evenings in Moroccan villages where I stayed, where there was literally NO nightlife after 10 p.m. All I had was a radio cassette recorder and a notebook. I recorded and manipulated the radio as I swept the dial, and I began collecting the Imam's call to prayer every morning when it was quiet. When I began traveling, I was aware of Folkways and ethnomusicology, but I never considered what I was doing as any more important than personally collecting what I loved to hear and create. I was never into "studying" people or cultures consciously—trying to figure them out. It's all very personal. It's autobiographical.


Sublime Frequencies is really the same. We do it for us. That it is marketed for sale is just the result of so many people who have heard our raw recordings over the years convincing us that we should make it available to the general public.

So which of the Sublime Frequencies stuff was recorded by you?

 The exclusively "Radio Collage" releases are my recordings, as well as most of the field recordings on the Bali disc. There are many more to come.

Sun City Girls have a lot of music that's similar in feel to the Sublime Frequencies releases. How do these two work together for you?

 It's one and the same to me. And depending on who's involved with producing the work, all of it is presented in either our or my personal aesthetic. We aren't trying to please an audience or to appease a record label, because we are our audience and we run our own labels. There's no one to impress or answer to but ourselves.

_See and **[ ](**_