Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to the Music of Indonesia [World Music Network, 2001]
Being as Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous nation and all, I strove to meet the Smithsonian's endless documentary series halfway and made contact with some pop stuff--go you cats and kitties with your gambang kromong. But as a groove man schooled in Western scales, I gave up soon enough; 550 cultures are the stuff of ethnomusicology, not rock criticism. This 15-song minitour is more like it. Crass even by Rough Guide standards, its only criterion seems to be tune, which can mean the very greatest hit of longtime stars or absolutely surefire folk tunes--a lovely gamelan snippet, say. Shameless schlock and proud rock fusions are by no means frowned upon, so those with sensitive stomachs will have to wait for something more tasteful or eternal life, whichever comes first. For most of us, however, this will prove at least as edutaining as Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? A-