À Découvrir Absolument is a magazine out of France which covers its country’s best indie music. They have 50 compilations, and #48 was my intro to their label. Worth exploring deeply.
If you are patient, you will indeed run into a charmingly freaky (or freakishly charming) release on Bandcamp. Today, I want to introduce you to The Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble. They hail from North Korea, of all places, and they have a catalog of at least 85 CDs available. This compilation, release by the Manchester-based Maybles Labels, put a lot of care into curating these tracks. From their Bandcamp website:
Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble – 보천보전자악단 is North Korea’s best known musical group. The group has been active for over 25 years and has released close to 200 albums. It is a household name in North Korea and also enjoys recognition in Japan and China. The ensemble’s recognition in Japan was celebrated with a tour in 1991.
The ensemble is famous for its’ inspired use of electronic instruments including bass, guitar, synthesizer and drums. Additional electronic effects are often created and edited in a sound studio following live recordings in order to achieve the hallmark synth-pop sounds.
The ensemble has written and performed marches, polkas, waltzes, bossanova, cha-cha and ballad pieces during its long history. It has also interpreted countless traditional and revolutionary folk songs from Korea and China as well as several Russian and European tunes.
P.E.E’s music is frequently on the themes of love of ones’ country, ideology and loyalty towards the political leadership of North Korea. Friendship, love and the beauty of nature are other common themes.
Former members of the ensemble have included iconic Korean singers such as Hyon Song‑wol, Ri Kyong Suk, Jon Hye Yong and Comrade Ri Sol-ju, wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
It’s best known melody outside of North Korea is “Whistle’ from 1990, which was covered and released in South Korea by Kim Yeon-ja, to great acclaim and success.
Totalitarian countries have a good reason to release nothing but happy music. If their people actually figured out that their situation wasn’t normal, there would be a lot of officials whose heads would be mounted on pikes, so the need to appease the masses is of critical importance.
Living in China, one can see that, despite the façade of wealth, this is a land of missed opportunities, even when it comes to music. Excepting the underground music scene in places like Shanghai, Dalian, Hong Kong, and here in Beijing, to a point, thanks to Fruity Shop and other amazing record stores, pop music here is garbage. It was bad during the 1970s as well. Taiwan, on the other hand, had music that was funky, lively and energetic.
Yu Ying Ying is a fine example of this. She released scores of albums in Taiwan, and this treasure came into my feed last night. How I didn’t discover this cherry before is anyone’s guess, but Yu’s work is definitely worth hunting for.
PowerPop is a fine blog worth perusing, folks!
My older cousin had given me this single but it skipped so much I replaced it. When I was 5 or 6 I had a fascination with this song. I’m not sure why I liked it so much… but I bought the single in Donelson…a town near Nashville with my mom. The song has a […]
Very sad news today. Andrew Brough, guitarist of one of New Zealand’s coolest indie bands, Straightjacket Fits, passed away today. His guitar work can be heard on She Speeds, perhaps the band’s masterpiece.
Flying Nun Records announced his passing on their Twitter feed.
We’re shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Andrew Brough. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his family, friends and all those who knew him.
We’re so lucky to have been touched by his music and he will be deeply missed.
— Flying Nun Records (@FlyingNun) February 4, 2020
2020 is shaping up to be a brutal year, isn’t it?
Old age must be kicking in, as I’m now into listening to 1970 AM Radio classics light Gordon Lightfoot’s gem.
Even down to his personal look, Joel Sarakula has a 70’s vintage vibe. He offers two tracks of exceptionally good soul music that would not have sounded out of place 40 years ago, even with the much better studio recording equipment.
Marianne Faithful’s Decca Years. By March 1964, it was apparent that pop music wasn’t just a passing fad. The Beatles were a global phenomenon, and the British Invasion of the American charts had just begun. Britain was a musical powerhouse, that the world envied. Despite this, many labels weren’t resting on their laurels. Record companies […]