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New Podcast: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Brian Shimkovitz. Part II Islamic, Christian and traditional praise music, all have a place in the market stalls across Africa, and are widely represented in Brian Shimkovitz's tape collection. Link: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/research/memorabilia_brian_shimkovitz_collection/capsula Info: http://rwm.macba.cat/uploads/20130903/Memorabilia_brian_shimkovitz_partII_eng.pdf Mp3: http://rwm.macba.cat/uploads/memorabilia/07_memorabilia_brian_shimkovitz_music_selection.mp3 From different regions and in different ways, praise music in all its forms has a big impact on both the cultural economy and local music industries. In the context of many African countries, major religions from the West like Pentacostalism and Sufi Islam have been incorporated into more local, animist religious traditions. The music that results from these diffusions is often quite popular regionally and distinct-sounding to my ears. My collection has many threads that could thematically link some of the tapes. One of the aspects I have always loved exploring, and I think it is due much more attention, is the array of gospel, spiritual and religious music of all stripes from across the continent. From praise music from Islamic chants by Ethiopia's Oromo-speaking Sufi Muslims to syrupy Tanzanian gospel choir lilt to DIY Kenya spiritual reggae, to chart-topping mainstream Ghanaian gospel, to Ethiopian Orthodox praise music by an elderly monk playing a massive begena harp, this selection touches on many of the religious recordings that have a place in market stalls in African cities. Praise music can extend to the patronage important to musical practice in many locales. In northern Ghana, Dagomba traditional donno drummers (talking drum) sing praise to important people in the community and supporters, as with track six, by Alhassan Ibrahim. Traditional religion plays a big role in varying degrees, both in spirituality and music-laden ceremonies. Vodun praise singers from Benin, alongside the incredible drum ensembles accompanying their work, transform their adherents through the worlds they create in their music, as with track two by Alèkpéhanou. This selection is by no means exhaustive but I really learned a lot more about the breadth of practice, aesthetics and social agency associated with spiritual music in Africa. Brian Shimkovitz, Summer 2013 Enjoy!
New podcast: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Brian Shimkovitz. Part I Produced by Matías Rossi The tale of how a student of ethnomusicology from Brooklyn spent a year in West Africa buying tapes off street markets... and how he managed to turn that bizarre collection into one of the most revered record labels in recent years. Link: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/research/memorabilia_brian_shimkovitz/capsula When Brian Shimkovitz went to Ghana on a Fulbright Scholarship for ethnomusicology in 2005, he was confronted with a rich, bizarre, puzzling and extremely varied array of music, mostly released on cassettes. 'I had never really considered going to Africa,' he says, 'but I had this interest in popular music in cities.' And the African music scene turned out to be just the ideal fieldwork project for Shimkovitz. For a whole year he was based in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, but occasionally traveled to other locations in West Africa such as Mali, Togo and Burkina Faso. In all of these places, street markets and stalls provided him with a seemingly endless supply of out-of-the-way material. By the time he went back to Brooklyn, having interviewed a substantial number of MCs, DJs and producers, he had amassed an impressive collection of tapes, but had no master plan for them. Starting a blog to channel his findings ('communicating it to people without dumbing it down completely', as he recalls) seemed like a reasonable enough idea. The name of the blog was pretty self-explanatory: Awesome Tapes from Africa. Steering away from the stereotypical afro-exoticist formulation that had been associated to the World Music market for decades, Brian made an effort to simply share his own excitement for the sounds, the artwork and the richness of his fragmented collection: 'a non-encyclopedic approach to this very, very broad and deep array of music that's out there – that I'm certain my 4,000 cassettes is only scratching the surface of 0.01% of music that’s commercially available.' It was probably this straightforward approach, combined with the viral potential of the web that made the project grow beyond his wildest expectations. Some years later, what began as a fairly underground resource for close friends, some connoisseurs and digital crate-diggers, has turned into a full-fledged record label. Awesome Tapes From Africa reissues all sorts of African tape rarities, from folkloric pop, to left-field dancefloor gems and hip-hop bangers, shedding light on obscure and wonderful sounds from across the continent. The label has received major acclaim from publications worldwide for its reissues by re-discovered legends including Ethiopian accordion and keyboard maestro Hailu Mergia, Somali funk and soul group Dur-Dur Band and Malian chanteuse Nahawa Doumbia, underscoring the broader mission of Awesome Tapes from Africa: contributing to building the international market for African music and helping a few of his favorite artists find new audiences through touring and reissues. You can find the complete MEMORABILIA. Colllecting sound with... podcast series here: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/memorabilia_tag/ Enjoy!