Boomkat Product Review:
Whew! 100 archival wonders spanning six continents, 89 countries, recorded between 1907-1967 - totalling nearly 5hrs of music - that don’t fall into the usual categories (jazz, blues, country, rock ’n roll, R&B or classical) and vividly speak to myriad strains of folk and dance music that existed before mass recording markets really took over in the mid C.20th. A real one!
Stop a spinning globe with a jabbed finger and one will probably land on a country whose music is featured on ‘Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World’s Music (1907-1967)’. Spotlighting heartbreaking Uzbek ballads beside spellbinding Indian raga, Irish reels, South African gospel, and rowdy Burmese rhythmelody, the expert diggers at Dust To Digital plumb the depths of a lost world with captivating results at each turn.
Replete with extensive liner notes byrecord collector and compilation producer Jonathan Ward that detail “contextual mini-histories about both musical origins and the beginnings of the recording industry, touching on the complexities of colonialism, economic agendas, and cultural tourism”, the set highlights how people made music for fun, communal rites, and emotional catharsis, just how they do nowadays, but without thoughts of making it “big” and harvesting the “likes” that came with the advent of a global recording industry and its megastars during the latter half of the last century. Of course, some of the artists inside may have been stars of the day in their region or cultural diaspora, but more due to expressing themselves in hyperlocal tongues, melodic accents and rhythms prior to American imperialism and British pop waves that, over time, would standardise, overlook and smudge their abundant distinctions.
Echoing some of the wondrous weltanschauung and cherry-picking sentiments to Yazoo’s ‘The Secret Museum of Mankind’ comps of 78s, it’s an all killer no filler collection for the discerning listener. Dust up on your knowledge of Haitian big band with ‘Prend Yo’ by Orchestre Franco-Creole, bawdy calypso by Jamaica’s Count Lasher, and utterly haunting Tibetan buddhist ritual music by Monks of the Maru Monastery at Lhasa, or lilting Welsh folk by Philip Tanner, and come away feeling far more worldly and just that little bit more enlightened, humbled, by the treasures on offer.