Various Radio Sumatra

Radio Sumatra is an absolutely brilliant collage of over 60 excerpts from Sumatran FM radio stations, recorded and edited only last year. It's a fascinating and wide ranging look into the contemporary culture of an island whose music isn't in heavy rotation on café-oriented compilations in this part of the world. This disc is catchy pop through and through. Ingredients include many home-grown pop forms, Bollywood, Celine Dion, skate punk, Snoop Dogg, country, electro pop and much more — track six says it all with a chorus of "this is the music of my country." The 11 montages represented on this disc blend sound sources ranging from one to five minutes in a way that achieve maximum impact through juxtaposition, although often the strangest jump cuts occur within the songs themselves. Enhancing the proceedings are hilarious generic bumpers hyping "the best in soft rock," newscasts, prayers, obnoxious DJs, comedy bits and many, many phone-in karaoke sessions. Inevitably, the argument will be made that compiler Alan Bishop is mixing this strictly for laughs. However, Bishop has the good sense to let the content unfold at its own pace with strange, familiar, hilarious and proud results. The best defence to the argument of appropriation is to simply listen to the music. It's a testament to Indonesia's ability to recombine the entire world of pop music in its own image. (Sublime Frequencies)