City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Nonesuch Explorer and Sublime Frequencies

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Get ’em while they’re hot, ladies and gents. has a promotion on the legendary Nonesuch Explorer series of records, comprising field recordings from the 60s and 70s. Only £6.99 a CD, until March 27th, so what are you waiting for? That’s a bargain anywhere (and particularly in the overpriced UK.)

At the time of release, these recordings drew sound from parts of the world that simply hadn’t been widely heard, except by locals and ethnomusicologists. As a series, they were hugely influential on western music-making, and still sound both fascinating and beautiful. It’s difficult to imagine Byrne and Eno’s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ – and much since – without these records. Lovely covers too:


And perhaps the modern day equivalent is Seattle’s Sublime Frequencies series, which also comprises field recordings – yet this time folding radio, TV and other recordings into the mix. Also, purveyors of some of the best album titles around. For example:

  • ‘Radio Pyongyang : Commie Funk and Agit Pop from the Hermit Kingdom’
  • ‘Princess Nicotine – Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar (Burma) vol. 1’
  • ‘Choubi Choubi : Folk & Pop Sounds From Iraq’
  • ‘Cambodian Cassette Archives : Khmer Folk & Pop Music Vol. 1’


Also available at Boomkat’s excellent current promotion.


3 responses to “Nonesuch Explorer and Sublime Frequencies”

  1. John C Avatar

    Ah yes, the Explorer series. Used to be that those were the only recordings you could find of non-western music, and then usually in record libraries. The French Okora label was another pioneer in this field before Peter Gabriel and co made it trendy.
    Of the Nonesuch reissues I heartily recommend the Javanese Gamelan ones. And Island Music of the South Pacific is a bit of a mixed collection but contains some beautiful singing. Was later plundered for samples on the first Transglobal Underground album.


  2. Colin Avatar

    I’ve a few of the Nonesuch Explorer series – particularly like Zanzibar, Music of Celebration and The Yemen Tihama.


  3. Jay Fienberg Avatar

    The Sublime Frequencies DVDs are really great too.


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