Scattered Melodies: Korean Kayagum Sanjo SF077

Sublime Frequencies releases their first 78rpm compilations, and true to form these are sounds rarely heard by contemporary Western ears. These 2 albums (SF077/SF078) are compiled by Robert Millis, a long time Sublime Frequencies contributor and a founding member of Climax Golden Twins, He is the author of Victrola Favorites: Artifacts from Bygone Days (Dust-to-Digital 2008), a book of historic early recording documentation, ephemera and music drawn from Millis' 78rpm collection. In 2011, he produced and helped design "I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces" (Dust-to-Digital), a similar book drawn from the collection of artist Steve Roden. In addition to composition, sound art practice and design, he has filmed and produced experimental documentaries on Asian music: "Phi Ta Khon: Ghosts of Isan" and "This World is Unreal like a Snake in a Rope" (both for Sublime Frequencies DVD release) and is an obsessive collector of 78rpm music records and ephemera.

Scattered Melodies (SF077) is a compilation of Korean Kayagum Sanjo Music. Sanjo, meaning "scattered melodies," is a form of stylized string improvisation developed in the 1890s originally for the Korean kayagum, a smaller distant cousin of the Japanese koto. Stark and haunting, falling in the gaps between folk and classical music, kayagum sanjo employs a gradually increasing tempo, focused improvisation (the “scattering of melodies”), elastic rhythms, and intense snaps and vibrato that seem to power through the hazy abstractions of the 78rpm recording technology (these are old, exceedingly rare records that have survived nearly insurmountable odds: invasion, occupation, war, division.) Presented here are a few of the masters of sanjo as it originally emerged in the early part of the 20th century on 78rpm recordings from 1925 to the early 1950s.

Pressing Information

This limited edition LP comes enclosed in a beautiful tip-on jacket with two-sided insert featuring extended liner notes by compiler Robert Millis.