Under African Skies

Awesome Tapes from Africa
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  October 27, 2008

“Awesome Tapes from Africa” — the name says it all. Run by Brian Shimkovitz, this wonderful MP3 blog features glorious music from Africa, where cassettes remain the preferred medium. Shimkovitz acquired the majority of his hefty collection during two extended stays in Ghana. Since the spring of 2006, he has been digitizing these musical gems (both rough-hewn and precision-cut) and posting them to www.awesometapesfromafrica.blogspot.com. The music runs the gamut from Ghanaian gospel to Nigerian highlife, dulcet Malian folk to polished Kenyan hip-hop. Here’s a taste . . .

Boubacar Traoré, "Benidigmamogo" (mp3)
Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Boubacar Traoré is a legendary figure in his native Mali. One listen to this beautiful track, which features Traoré’s plaintive voice with elegant acoustic-guitar accompaniment, and it’s easy to understand why.

Dr. Orlando Owoh and his Omimah Band, "Iyawo Olele" (mp3)
This track by the celebrated Orlando Owoh is Shimkovitz’s latest entry, a jaunty dose of Nigerian highlife, with Owoh’s rich, raspy voice backed by talking drums and a deft guitar that’s mixed front and center. The popping percussive breaks are a simmering, groovy treat.

Mariam Bogayogo, "Massafing" (mp3)
With its looping rhythms, handclaps, and finger snaps, this is one mesmerizing piece of music. Bogayogo has a powerful voice, and she sings in a vibratoless style that cuts right through the drifting, unearthly sounds of the balafon, a xylophone-like instrument constructed using large gourds that create scintillating overtones reminiscent of Indonesia’s gamelan.

Ata Kak, "Moma Yendodo" (mp3)
Full of helium-stoked vocals, lightning-fast rhymes, and cheesy synths, this is an infectious slice of mid-’90s Ghanaian highlife gone haywire. It’s one of the more brilliantly tweaked tracks I’ve heard in some time.

  Topics: Download , Boubacar Traore, Orlando Owoh, Mariam Bogayogo,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ASSAULT AND BATTERIES  |  February 20, 2009
    After a brief stint in Pittsburgh, guitarist and electronic musician GEOFF MULLEN is back in his native Rhode Island, and the New England music scene is so much the better for it.
  •   SO MUCH IN STORE  |  February 10, 2009
    Australia's the NECKS are the sort of band who thwart classification.
  •   A COMPROVISATIONAL WHAT?  |  February 02, 2009
    Local saxophonist and electronic-musician JORRIT DIJKSTRA combines a variety of styles ranging from jazz to electro-acoustic improv and noise to create his own emotive and often idiosyncratic music.
  •   WINTRY MIX  |  January 26, 2009
    There are so many interesting and unusual musical happenings this week, it's almost more than this little column can bear.
    Although composer JOHN CAGE is best known for 4'33" of silence, he could raise a ruckus when the mood struck.

 See all articles by: SUSANNA BOLLE