[spectre] New podcast: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Brian Shimkovitz. Part I

Radio Web MACBA rwm2008 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 16 11:03:19 CEST 2013

*New podcast: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Brian Shimkovitz. Part

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/

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