Tuesday, February 8, 2011

third world lovers

Considering that I live in a town far removed from cosmopolitan taste, where 1970's rock and last year's Top 40 still rule the airwaves, my tastes are similarly outdated. The sounds I always come back to are what I heard as a kid, what I loved in my teens, when I first started playing guitar and realized there was this whole undiscovered world of music.

If the New York Times is to be believed, the hipsters have discovered Africa and while said hipsters tend to get a little pretentious about archaic musical forms, I'm honestly glad to see recognition of the amazing sounds coming out of other parts of the world.

The "world music" tag usually denotes some kind of Western sonic colonization and general cheesiness, usually with lots of synthesizers and terrible production, or something that inevitably involves Peter Gabriel or some other western dude who goes over and "discovers" some crazy new sound that inevitably gets overproduced and unbearable. The only world-ish stuff I could really get into was Dead Can Dance because it sounded ancient most of the time rather than something out of "The Lion King."

There's a part of me that's jealous of said boomer crackers because I'd love to be running around the desert with a tape recorder hanging out with electric guitar-wielding griots and Tuareg freedom fighters or going to the Festival in the Desert. This will probably never happen as I'm poor and vulnerable as a single white female.

Instead, I've spent a good deal of time downtown at Cleveland Public Library delving into their insanely huge international music section out of curiosity and playing this stuff at 5am on Tuesday mornings to those who may or may not be listening.

I'm glad that there's labels out there reissuing some amazing stuff from the 60's and 70's and also the more current musicians out there who will never get serious airtime over here because most lyrics aren't sung in English.

When I moved home from Kent, I was deeply depressed and feeling like my life was over (no friends, no car, dead end job, etc) and I listened to Amadou & Mariam's "Dimanche en Bamako" and painted nightly in the basement, seeking solace in the intricate guitars and mingling voices of a blind couple from Mali old enough to be my parents . I still play them almost every week on my show because it always does it for me and I hope it does it for other people too.

One of my college roommates was big into this stuff, and put this trip-hop remix of an Oumou Sangare track on a mix CD for me.

Rokia Traore has an incredible voice and shares a love for Gretsch electric guitars.

I'm still kicking myself for not seeing Tinariwen in Columbus last year. Most of these groups don't tour much, and if they do, they play festivals I'd never go to and major cities that aren't Cleveland.

This older stuff reminds me of my dad's garage rock 45's in all their fuzzed-out guitar-driven glory.

This one reminds of Cream.

Mulatu Astatke gets a lot of love for good reason. In all honesty, I don't know much about jazz, but I know I like trippy guitars, vibraphones, and things that sound like this.

Not to mention the sounds that came out of places we only know here in the western world as places where there's civil war and general craziness.

And I still really want a kora. These sound so beautiful, and I know it'd be hard to find one in these parts.

1 comment:

Randal Graves said...

The best part is now you can be a snob and go "I liked these guys before they got big." Take that, hipsters.