“I think it’s amazing that what would otherwise be forgotten music can be dusted down and given a new lease of life to a new audience in a new century. Some of the singing and musicianship from back then is just top notch.”
So says Flope, the English artist behind an incredibly interesting project that has really got Sonic Breakfast’s juices flowing. I’ll let them continue.
“The project started with the purchase of more than 100 old 78 rpm records from Africa. The records used were recorded mainly in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) in the early 1950s. The records were sent to a specialist music engineer in the United States, who converted all files to 24-bit .wav format for us. We are in the process of examining them and looking for tracks to feature on our forthcoming album. We’ve recorded four tracks so far and three of them are on Spotify as a 3-track single.”
Those three tracks really are something special. Take the track ‘Angina Baba Angina Mama’ that I’ve chosen to feature here. It bounces along with grit and determination; the vintage guitar and vocals from Norman Muhlwa shining brightly amidst Flope’s digital additions. The sum is perhaps akin to what Paul Simon was trying to achieve with Graceland. Or, indeed, what Public Service Broadcasting have looked to do by bringing old public service announcements back to life.
There’s something sad (though undeniably inevitable) about the idea that every day a piece of all of our histories is forever lost. Only a minimal amount of the cultural artefacts from all of our pasts can possibly survive the test of time; and sometimes it’s the least appealing works of art that’ll get heralded in galleries because they were able to secure a form of patronage when they were created.
Thank goodness for people like Flope who are on a mission to rescue records from the region that was Northern Rhodesia / Nyasaland. I’ll be following the development of this work with interest.