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Filmmakers Cyrus Moussavi and Jacob Russell combine their love of backpacking with music to create Raw Music International – a visually and musically stunning documentary series that skillfully blends human stories with their search for what they call the “baddest sounds” across the globe.
Taking the chase through the mountains, villages and cities of Burma, Travels in Myanmar gives a glimpse into one of the least explored aspects of more than 100 religious and ethnic enclaves in the country – the music.
The documentary showcases everything from the simple but moving mandolin-accompanied tunes written by a Karen father and daughter duo, to the song-for-a-price performances that the famed Kayan Lahwi play to support their communities. The music created is about as raw as it gets.
From the plains of Pegu [Bago] province through to the Hindi-speaking town of Sadhugon and across Mandalay, Moussavi and Russell immerse themselves in towns that play deep-house tracks and the music their ancestors played in the same night.
The change in government has brought many new things to Burma, but many towns retain their unique style and sound due to decades of intense isolation.
Sampling psychedelic free jazz bands, a mix of a block party/ exorcism in Buddhist-influenced Nat Pwe, and the haunting hymns sung by a tiny Christian population in the mountains, Travels in Myanmar gives a rare glimpse into the pulsating music found all through the countryside – if you know where to find it.