Boomkat Product Review:
Another brilliantly assembled time capsule from Death Is Not The End, this time capturing the buzz of Brooklyn's pirate radio culture 2014-2021. Dancehall, reggae, dub, and lovers rock are interspersed with deejay chatter, evangelical adverts and political calls to action.
Those that live in the borough will know that while gentrification has certainly changed pretty much everything, there's far more to Brooklyn's cultural landscape than artisanal coffee shops and craft beer stores. Brooklyn's proud migrant communities have long been responsible for propping up the area's culture and injecting it with a shot of sunshine - from the ubiquitous Jamaican beef patties to the Russian nightclubs. And if there's one thing that everyone who's spent any amount of time in Brooklyn should know, it's that if you fiddle with the dial on your car radio, you'll come across a wealth of local pirate radio stations playing the best music you're likely to hear across the Five Boroughs.
Archivist David Goren is a Brooklyn-based radio producer who's put together a number of shows about New York City's pirate radio stations, and he's been cataloguing his research for years, tracing cultural connections between unlicensed radio broadcasting and local migrant culture. On 'Brooklyn Pirates', Goren focuses mostly on Caribbean stations, swerving occasionally to include broadcasts from Turkish and Orthodox Jewish stations. It's a treasure trove of recent history that's far more gripping to listen to than a simple description might suggest. The music, for starters, is r&b, dancehall and soca jams fizzing to the surface for a second before being swallowed by news coverage or adverts.
The most enjoyable moments are spots nay spiritual consultants, commentary on the Trump/Biden elections and adverts for Jamaican patty shops (gotta try that ackee patty), but it's sobering to hear not only mentions of the George Floyd protests in 2020, but the COVID-19 outbreak and the drive for vaccinations. This kind of archival work will only become more precious as time goes on - but even now it sounds like a snapshot of an important stretch of time, elevated by its presentation, shining a light on communities that rarely get airtime.