Music From Saharan Cellphones is not only the first record I have ever bought comprising of music culled from cellular phones but it's also the first to feature a tracklist what includes bitrate info in the notes.
But that's not the only info packed into the incredibly informative insert, oh no. Included within are detailed explanations pertaining to each individual song along with notes on the instrumentation for each respective track and insightful remarks as to the personal relevance of these oft swapped compositions from both the collectors' and the musicians' points of view. Also, if you feared plunking down your hard earned cash for another mysterious, untold vinyl oddment be aware that the "behind the music" info-throwdown continues on the back of the tracklist wherein the demystification of this record begins and the essentialness of it's inception becomes fully realized and, in a sense, re-mystified. In short: Christopher Kirkley begot his sahelsounds label to capture an amazing collection of contemporary West African jammage that is nothing if not a true adventure in hi-fi for the 21st century. And apparently there's more to come.
The songs that comprise Music From Saharan Cellphones were mp3s culled from memory cards of cellphones in West Africa where trading songs via wireless transfer was common before the word "smartphone" became an everyday term stateside. All of the songs presented on the LP are the spoils of an armchair musicologist, the aforementioned Kirkley. who based his immersion out of the Nothern Malian town of Kidal. While there Kirkley began gathering whole collections of MP3s and later got it together to track down the artists to collaborate on a commercial release (via Mississippi records) with sixty percent of the proceeds going directly to the artists themselves - I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult a task that was. The variance in musical style is curiously wild with traditional instruments mixing-it-up with the likes of Groovebox, Autotune,a myriad of synths and the seemingly compulsory presence of Taureg guitar with influences reminiscent of everything from Jil Jilala to Tupac Shakur, Algerian Rai to Mauritanian Jagwa.
This record is an absolute must if you, like Sunshine Anderson, feel like you've heard it all before. Check out the opening track below and hop on your chance to buy it here - I have a feeling this one will go quick!
Group Anmattaf (a.k.a. Baye) - Tinariwen