Low-fi Tuareg guitar from renowned Timbouctou musician Abba Gargando. Original compositions and folklore classics from hypnotic electrified weddings to quiet fireside recordings in the refugee camps. Collected and recorded on cellphones, sparse recordings in the medium where he is best known.
released September 24, 2015
Recorded in Mali and Mauritania
Produced by Christopher Kirkley
Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk @ Stereophonic
Printed by Eberhardt Press
His final record hints and what will likely be the next phase of artists control over their own work, as it translates into the West. The role of record label/blog/writing about “the other” is as mediator between cultures, but rife with problematic issues of representation and exoticism.
That night, he organizes a small gathering. We collect songs from the cellphones of Nouakchott’s Gargando-in-exile. There are hundreds of mp3s – recorded in festivals in Timbouctou, weddings in Nouakchott, or small informal sessions like tonight. Abba rewards the group with a few hours of guitar. When he starts playing, they switch on their phones, start recording, and throw them onto the floor.
I have no chance to listen to all the music until later, on the other side of the world. I make a selection and check with Abba. Five years prior this would have been arduous task – playing the songs over the phone connection, waiting for an SMS with the correct spelling, repeat. But times had changed. I send him the files over WhatsApp, to which he replies, identifying the songs and altering the tracklist to his choosing.
His final record hints and what will likely be the next phase of artists control over their own work, as it translates into the West. The role of record label/blog/writing about “the other” is as mediator between cultures, but rife with problematic issues of representation and exoticism. Holding to task the most exotic ethnography and offensive ‘world music’, it may be simplistic to think we can cut through decades of misappropriation with technology. But it does suggest the increasing role that artists may have in their creation and representation abroad – the Western mediators saying less, because it’s already being said.
Sahelsounds is a project begun in 2009 exploring the cultural and musical phenomena of the Sahel region of West Africa. Through field recording, interviews, video, youtube archeology, cellphone data collection, sahelsounds uses archiving to transmit a story.