Guest List: Not Your Mama's World Music by Sam Ryo

Hey ya'll. Welcome to our first guest list, brought to you by our buddy Sam Ryo. Sam owns LOKAL Cold Brew, a coffee company in Columbus, Ohio that brings a taste of Indonesian coffee and heritage to the Midwest. It's a must-drink if you ever find yourself in Columbus.

Art by  Winny Tan . Anyone recognize thiiiiiis?   LOKAL's label art for   their single origin Bali Kintamani cold brew! Winny has made label art an anticipated part of LOKAL's distribution around Columbus, and she was kind enough to let us use this beautiful piece.   

Art by Winny Tan. Anyone recognize thiiiiiis? LOKAL's label art for their single origin Bali Kintamani cold brew! Winny has made label art an anticipated part of LOKAL's distribution around Columbus, and she was kind enough to let us use this beautiful piece.   

By Sam Ryo

What is world music, anyway? Should we even use that term anymore?

To me, the term "world music" is antiquated and outdated, overtly western-centric, and seemingly puts music from other cultures in the fringes. Shouldn't western pop be classified as world music too? "World music" implies exoticness, and there is danger in the exoticization of cultures and places. Orientalism is still rampant in mainstream America, a fact that is often aside and overlooked.

Anyhoo, back to the music!

This is a collection of music from diverse origins and cultures that are relevant to my life. What draws me most to these songs is that they exhibit complex song-writing capabilities that inject subtle, interwoven historical references and political messages, messages that are often missed on first listen.

"Saija" by Trees and the Wild contains text from Dutch Colonial Literature "Max Havelaar" which portrayed the injustice and atrocities of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia. This book was important in the reformation of colonial governance in the West East Indies.

"Our Roots", also by Trees and the Wild, incorporates the pentatonic scale so commonly seen in old school Indonesian music (some say that the impressionist musician Claude Debussy started using the pentatonic scales after watching Indonesian musicians perform in the World Fair) and a traditional singing style called Nyinden. Think Indonesian Sigur Ros.

Tiga Pagi's "Tertidur" contains a radio transmission from 1965, declaring a State of Emergency. It is a part of their debut album, which guides you through the night of an attempted communist coup. The Red Scare that started here in America had made its way through South East Asia, leading to reprisal killings that changed the course of modern Indonesia.

"Zhong Nan Hai" by the Beijing based Carsick Cars is possibly the most subversive of the bunch. Zhong Nan Hai is the brand of cigarettes produced by the state, but also refers to the physical location where the state of China conducts its governing, AND serves as a short-cut term for Chinese leadership in general (not unlike the White House). Maybe it's a political song; maybe it's just like Mac DeMarco singing about Viceroys.

Not all good art has to be political in nature, and "Baibaba Bimba" by Tenniscoats is exactly that. Enjoy!

Individual tracks below listed below, but the YouTube playlist is more fun!

Sam Ryo

Sam Ryo