Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Asia [Sublime Frequencies, 2013]
I don't have the confidence to give this an A because even though it makes sense on its own terms it's just too weird by American standards. Maybe by Chinese standards too--my calculations indicate that the 11 or 12 ethnic groups responsible for 16 tracks (excluding sacred Tibetan finale) add barely 10 million to China's population, well under one percent. Yet because I lack the sophistication of their billion-three fellow citizens, the vocal scales and lute-and-flute sonorities all just sound Chinese to me. Not well-schooled, formally respectable Chinese, however. There's a conversational feel to most of these colloquies and solo turns, with high female voices prevailing but enough men grunting their prerogatives. In my house, which hosted a Netflix festival of Chinese nature docs recently, it's dinner music. And a beardo I know with a small electronica business immediately pegged it as a sample source. B+