Man, they don't make Ethnic Forgeries like they used to! Canadian fine artist Michael Snow is best known for his film work, but as a trained jazzer landing in 60s New York, he inevitably became embroiled in the city's mushrooming musical avant-garde, releasing an LP (Musics For Piano, Whistling, Microphone and Tape Recorder) on Philip Glass's Chatham Square label and generally becoming a bit of a downtown mover and shaker and (thoughtful) piss-taker. Some years later - 1987 to be precise - he came out with The Last LP, an album for Art Metropole purporting to be a documentary recording of the dying gasps of ethnic musical cultures from around the globe including Tibet, Syria, India, China, Brazil and Finland, with copious, insanely detailed supporting sleevenotes.
It was, however, a wind-up, an elaborate fiction - all the sounds you hear were the work of Snow himself. The eagle-eyed (or indeed anyone who bothers to read) will spot a number of clues - i.e. some good jokes - buried in those sleevenotes, while the eagle-eared (do eagles have good hearing? Do eagles have ears??? I truly know nothing of the world) might spot the Whitney Houston song embedded in 'So Napa (By What Signs Will I Come To Understand)'.
Positioned later as an "investigation into the effects (both negative and positive) of Western recording technology on the world's few remaining, at the time of recording, ancient pre-industrial cultures", The Last LP could legitimately be accused of cultural appropriation - I mean COURSE it could - but really it's a vicious parody of that very impulse...each track claims to be not just a recording of its subject, but the "last possible" recording (as when the intrepid “Michael Snow” wipes out an entire Lapland tribe by introducing them to the Hong Kong ‘flu.) Genius record, all told, and the perfect Xmas prezzie for that easily offended special someone in your life!