lunes, 25 de abril de 2016

Awesome Tapes From Africa

Thrilling music from the cassette deck of Brian Shimkovitz

There are worse ways to wile away an afternoon than scrolling through the Awesome Tapes From Africa blog. It was started ten years ago by Brian Shimkovitz, an ethnomusicologist whose obsession with collecting African tapes began after a trip to Ghana. Since then he's been travelling regularly to Africa, hitting up market stalls and secondhand shops to dig up cassette curios. The blog's simple layout makes it easy to admire the cover art—the sleeves are usually beautiful and evocative, like this or this orthis. Every post is a glimpse into a different corner of the vast African musical diaspora, be it South African synth pop, praise music from Northern Ghana or vocal and string music from Ethiopia. 

The Awesome Tapes From Africa record label was launched in 2011, with Shimkovitz often going to great lengths to track down musicians. Importantly, these releases have sparked newfound interest in many artists—the likes of Hailu Mergia, Nahawa Doumbia and SK Kakraba have all toured Europe following ATFA releases. Shimkovitz himself has become a festival regular as a DJ, mixing his cassettes using a tape deck and a mixer. Tape-mixing may just seem like a cute USP in 2016, but you can see it's born from a deep passion. It's a passion that's apparent on Shimkovitz's RA podcast, which showcases the African music that's currently exciting him the most. 

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