Various Artists - Radio Myanmar
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has certainly been in the news lately, both for its recent disaster and for the light shown on its repressive government. That government has also been involved, like most similar regimes, with censorship and curbing of free speech. So you wonder, what value can a collection of radio broadcasts from such a country have? Surprisingly, "Radio Myanmar" is a vibrant, funny, and quirky look into what is allowed to be heard. It is also a peek into the lives of the citizens who, despite the restrictions, are still able to celebrate their culture and find time to dance.
A majority of the clips in this set were recorded in March and April of 2007 from broadcasts in the Yangon region, and provide a vivid snapshot of local like. There are the official government pronouncements stressing unity and obedience, mostly by a group called The Union Solidarity & Development Association, as well as on-air readings of articles from the state run newspaper. But there is also a generous selection of Burmese pop, classic and modern, which serves as a jarring counterpoint to the rhetoric. Asian pop has that peculiar joy that comes from its unique ability to blend and warp western styles-in this case classic rock, hip-hop and weird techno ballads--to fit their own local rhythms.
Here, that joy stands as an unofficial protest against repression. Without belaboring the point, "Radio Myanmar" does show that it is hard to keep the spirit down, especially when there are good times to be had in spite of the powers that be.
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