Voice of America's African Music Treasures | Bleader

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Voice of America's African Music Treasures

Posted By on 01.10.08 at 05:27 PM

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Since every post this week has been about African music, I can’t think of a good reason to stop now--especially since so many other people write exclusively about white Americans with guitars.

Today, thanks to the excellent blog Matsuli, I discovered a recently launched blog from the Africa service of Voice of America, an operation that broadcasts all over the continent in English, French, Portuguese, Amharic, Tigrigna, Oromo, Hausa, Swahili, Ndebele, Shona, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, and Somali. The music holdings of the Africa service include more than 10,000 reels of tape and several thousand more albums, 45s, cassettes, and CDs. Inspired by the music posted regularly on Matsuli, VOA producer Matthew LaVoie decided to share some of his organization's collection online, and the first three posts, dating back to last month, have all been incredible. I’m familiar with the Congolese group Orchestre Bantous, the subject of the December 27 entry, but not with most of the other bands LaVoie has posted--which include L'Harmonie Voltaique and Volta Jazz, both from Burkina Faso, and a handful of contemporary groups from the Ivory Coast represented by tracks from recent cassettes. LaVoie provides informative descriptions and the artwork from the original sources. Most of this stuff is either ultra rare or nearly impossible to find outside Africa, which makes the abundant surface noise and the occasional skip from the original 45s easy to overlook.

Today’s playlist:

Michaël Attias, Credo (Clean Feed)
Sofia Gubaidulina, Am Rande des Abgrunds, de Profundis, Quaternion, in Croce (Wergo)
Lucio Capece, Axel Dörner, and Robin Hayward, Kammerlärm (Azul Discográfica)
Spank Rock & Benny Blanco, Bangers and Cash (Downtown)

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