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coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 243 - 06/20/16

Bitchin Bajas + Olivia Wyatt
Sailing a Sinking Sea
Drag City

'Last year, filmmaker Olivia Wyatt invited Bitchin Bajas to add incidental music to the climatic sounds of her feature-length experimental documentary on the nomadic Moken people [of Burma and Thailand], Sailing A Sinking Sea. This new album release packages the soundtrack LP with a DVD of the film, thus opening several windows to the eternal questions posed on both formats and providing two distinct pieces of art coming from the same source.'

Bitchin Bajas would be a nice (if not perfect) pick to provide the soundtrack to an experimental film from an exotic place about a people living by (and from) the sea. By checking out their 2013 record Bitchitronics, Bitchin Bajas for sure is an experimental combo steered by guitarist Cooper Crain (also known from Chicago Krautrock revivalists Cave). The Bitchin Bajas (BB) men are Crain, Dan Quinlivan (synth/keyboard and guitar), and Rob Frye (flute, saxophone, and guitar) - the latter also a 'Cave man'. BB (and Cave) record and release recordings yearly (Crain operates as an engineer/producer as well) and the group put a Bonnie Prince Billy collaboration entitled Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties earlier this year (though Drag City as well). All of the 19 tracks are entitled in Thai (?) as well as in English, in parentheses, but I am not sure if these are translations (probably not) or co-titles. As this is film soundtrack music, here are snippets of songs lasting from one minute up to two-three minutes. The Mokens are true 'sea people', and the film further presents/states that: 'Mokens were born in the sea' and 'For Mokens, the sea is the great mother'. This nomadic ethnic group of people catch fish for a living. They live by the sea, of the sea - as a sea-based culture of islanders living on the Andaman coast. The Andaman is, according to Lonely Planet, 'Thailand's turquoise coast; one of those places you see on a postcard that makes you want to quit your job and live in flip-flops forever.' For the Moken people's sake, let us just hope that not all of the Western world go travel to find this Shangri-La-ish paradise. The Moken people is 'one of the smallest ethnic minority groups in Asia'.

The soundtrack provides cosmic music and sea breezes through some highly hypnotic, meditative music of 'water sounds and other field recordings' merged with BB's playful experimentalism. I guess you need to go see the film (duration: 104 minutes) for the best effort/effect of the music. Now this is possible through Drag City. The soundtrack (and the film's trailer) is highly teasing and they make this (probably) an exciting watch (and listen). Life aquatic with team Bitchin Bajas and Olivia Wyatt - plus (of course) the Mokens: their lifestyle as well as their voices and songs. Go with their flow.

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