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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom September 12, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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A variety of North Korean music from the Sublime Records release “Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom”
The description of the album from The Sublime Frequencies site

Schmaltzy synthpop, Revolutionary rock, Cheeky child rap, and a healthy dose of hagiography for Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, this is the now NOW sound of North Korea! A hermit kingdom with a rich folk history and an even richer tradition in over-the-top praise for the ruling House of Kim, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a diplomatic thorn and a culture never Neverland. Boasting a heady mix of Stalin opera, Tokyo karaoke and brooding impressionism, the sound of present-day Pyongyang distills into warped agit-pop and lost-in-time commie funk. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in North Korean music, this is your vehicle for exploration. Christiaan Virant has visited this mysterious land and has assembled this amazing audio collage. Captured within are rare live recordings from various performances and mass games demonstrations, sounds lifted from People’s Army television dramas, samples from hard-to-find CD releases obtained in the capital, and of course, news reports from the “real” Radio Pyongyang, which continues to broadcast to this day, albeit under the new, strikingly anodyne moniker “Voice of Korea”.

Needless to say it’s a strange eclectic mix. As expected from such a regime, some of it is austere, some of it sounds like the soundtrack to those Polish Cartoons on RTE in the 70’s. Yet there is some very kitsch pop (Parts sound like a 1970’s Eurovision entries compilation.), children singing folksongs, sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in a Spaghetti Western and on top of all that the album is interspersed with announcements from Radio Pyongyang. All the sounds are stitched together to make something that’s strangely fascinating and actually quite listenable to.
I’ve included a few tracks and also the full album below.


The full album

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