Sublime Frequencies V.A. : Thai Pop Spectacular (THAI,rec.1960s-1980s,pub.2007)***°
I was enthusiastic about the Thai pop examples on the Subliminal Sounds label, which very much revealed the spirit of blending or interpreting western influences, making a style mix that captures a spirit, attractive to both worlds. Collectors have their own specific way of collecting records. They look for new music by describing some restrictions in what is often called a “genre”. When the restrictions are into crossover styles this still depend a bit on how much a certain genre is recognised. Some lesser quality will often still be accepted as being “charming” just because the expected genres are present. When the collectors are willing to sacrifice huge sums of money for rare and special artefacts, there will be many moments when the products they find will also be worth checking out, when of course the person who sells their rarities understands the needs for quality well, and when the information which has been put down on vinyl dealt enough with “quality”, more than with theoretical qualities or commercial, mainstream or confirming interests. Most so called collectors are working back in time, so if they have good money and are pretty early in digging out some information sources their research mùst be worth while, within the limits of their own imagination. But there are also different ways of looking for something. My first impression to the collectors of Sublime Frequencies, like Mark Gergis and Alan Bishop, was that they seem not be these kind of music collectors at all. I thought at first they had worked more like tourists in these countries with a huge interest in the colourful aspects of these countries themselves, while exploring their interest in discovering, unrestrictedly, all kinds of music on their travels. There seemed to have been a bit more randomness in finding their material, depending very much on what they meet, more than on their own directing opinions. With this kind of approach there will be different surprises, but there is also the danger that more common music is accepted, where the message of the musician that enfolds its message into a world of new possibilities might not always be as important or dominating. They could for instance also find sympathy just for the strangeness of the local sounds. But the greatest luck they have here is that the guys from Subliminal Frequencies started to collect their music at the time the music was made. Things that help for collecting in general are good information sources, meeting the right people, a good “nose” for finding the right associations, perhaps even guided by some “spiritual” mentality that attracts automatically all what will fit together and need each other for the benefit of the goal, to visualize the underlying creative process consciously. Still, some things are destined not to be spread with the word too immediately, because many honest creative processes needs peace, and not popularity, so a number of true artefacts will always be discovered much, much later, and only when their processes are completely finished, in a protected area they needed, to make it blossom well.
Also for this compilation, now, is finished, only then, when the newness of it, and the child-like adventure period in it, is already over. This album is made to look back with a vision and awareness making the question appear like “for those who were not there : didn’t we miss here something important and unique ?” Mark Gregis describes in the liner notes how he thinks it is a shame that Thai pop music did not find any attention by musicologists while all other genres in Thailand did. He says that pop music in Thailand had their own local roots like Molam, but also foreign influences were adapted like jazz, surf, rock, funk, disco and comedy tunes, forming an original hybrid form on its own. For this, he said, Bangkok had been the centre of the musical industry.
Technically the music sounds just slightly like old tapes/recordings, with less perfect contrasts or a bit more blurred and ready for loud juke-boxes, which is just a bit of a shame. However, the examples are surprisingly pleasant, not always overwhelming with that truly international crossover idea, but give a feeling of a crisscross, over the average, and surely over the obvious, examples that Thai Pop music indeed had something truly unique on its own, even when embedded within this still rather “local” sound. Surf guitars appear more than once, as well as a kind of Ethiopian Jazz feeling to the few more jazzy tunes, and vague elements of disco appeared also more than once. I am very much confronted again with the reality that there really exists something of a kind of “world music”, not in a traditional folk sense, but in a pop sense. When you travel by foot from one country to the next you might notice how language in the dialects more or less while also dealing with several changing shapes through other influences of certain historical facts, in general it is still noticeable that it slightly changes from one country to the next (-likewise the natural environment and conditions change-). But it is also the same for certain traditions, behaviours, as well as to the approach to music. While everywhere in the East certain genres from elsewhere and especially also the West were adapted, this was especially most noticeable in the more free-from-boundaries explorative years in the 60s and ‘70s where you can really sense the gradual changes in approach to the “global style” from India to Thailand to Indonesia, and so on, with some variations giving more meaning either to order and disciplines, to loose experiments or more to a mainstream enjoyment emphasis, in some areas....