Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heartbeat of Africa

... back to home (after a further couple weeks in Brisbane). Made a garage sale on Sunday morning; found this - which is not quite what the title might suggest - among a haul of ethnomusicological vinyls.

So far as I can tell, the original (Series 1) releases in Sapra's 'Heartbeat of Africa' series were all recorded by David Fanshawe; otherwise famed for his African Sanctus LP. Chances are, these are the audible fruits of the field recordings that he, unnh, 'harvested' for that disc, and its companion, Arabian Fantasy.

Most of the recordings that I've found on this label document the musical traditions of East Africa, but at least one (CMIL 92,
Pearl Divers of Bahrain) is from further afield. Bits & pieces from these 7s were compiled to a pair of Nonesuch Explorer LPs, both of which are currently available on CD. Almost all the rest has been out of print for decades - a great shame, as it represents an exhaustive survey of a stunning wealth of ritual and festive musics, sounds of bird & beast, and local ambience. All of them are beautifully recorded

Anyways: "The Wagogo are a little known people who live in central Tanzania, around Dodoma. Those who have met them rate them as one of the most musical tribes in Africa. Their variety of home made instruments and vigorous dances come perhaps nearest to the accepted Western concept of music; yet Gogo music remains unquestionably African..."

Sensational music, like everything I've heard in this series. Dating from the early 1970s. Sometime soon I'll post up a link for DL of some of this material.

(An aside: I think all of the 'Heartbeat of Africa' 7s that I've found in Melbourne came originally from the same West Brunswick garage sale, back in 2000 - the grandchildren of a deceased evangelist clearing his cluttered house. The entire top floor of that place was a god-bothering home cinema. I guess there's a chance that character was connected to some kind of missionary activity?)

... For recordings of African music within more popular idioms, albeit from the other side of the Continent, check the amazing Voodoo Funk blog: recommended!

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