Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Scratchy old music

There's been some great reading pop up recently on the issue of music archives, and saving our musical history from disappearing. Andrew Dubber has a site called Deleting Music, which is a sober reality check. One of my favourite posts there is about Uchenna Ikonne...

"Nigerian news outlet 234Next has a great article about Uchenna Ikonne, a man who is preserving and archiving the history of Nigerian popular music of the past 50 years – and reissuing it on his label, Comb & Razor Sound. Some really great and noteworthy things about US-based Uchena Ikonne...

1) He’s a real digger
I remember when I first started telling people in Nigeria that I am looking for old records and stuff like that.
They told me, “You can’t find that kind of thing in Nigeria today.” My reply was “No, you mean YOU can’t find it… I can!” And they would say “Ha! You won’t see that sort of thing in the market o!” The market? Are you kidding? Who is looking at the market? To find this stuff, you need to go ‘under’ the market! For months on end I would be rummaging through dark and filthy storage spaces, day in and day out. Getting sinus infections from the dust and mould… digging through urine-soaked garbage and getting bitten by rats. And in the end, when I show all the material I’ve gathered, people always ask “How did you find this stuff?” as if I’m a magician. But really, it’s all right here under our noses!
Go read the rest of Dubber's piece here. It's fantastic.

 Simon Grigg writes on "the quickly evaporating New Zealand musical past." He talks about setting up a Music Archive. We already have the National Library collecting NZ recordings, but this is more about preserving not only recordings but master tapes and associated material and making recordings available to the public.

Simon has a shockingly big list of local releases post-1974 that are out of circulation or in very poor quality CD reissues  - things like  Miltown Stowaways and the Unsung Records catalogue, and there's at least 8 albums from the Deep Grooves label on there too, which, if people could gte to discover them would prove that Auckland did the funky-regggae-dance-thang over a decade before the Welly reggae sound leapt onto the scene.

Russell Brown added to the topic, pointing out there's  a discussion document currently doing the rounds amongst stakeholders, including Rianz, on this very issue.

Andrew Schmidt at Mysterex has a piece on saving our musical history, worth a read.

"Slice of Heaven, the new Te Papa permanent installation, is a frustrating space for a historian concerned with twentieth century New Zealand heritage and identity and music's role in it....  Our music history is there but it begins (and ends) with 1950s rock n roll. They clearly didn't speak to Chris Bourke. Blam Blam Blam’s No Depression in New Zealand can be heard behind one early 1980s film segment (but not the Springbok Tour one)..."

A lot of the discussions around this area remind me of what I love about Wax Poetics magazine - they dedicate their mag to uncovering recordings and delving deep into the story behind them - who recorded them, who played what...  A lot of that is solving mysteries around records while the folk involved are still living.

And with that, I'm off for a blog holiday. Blogging will resume in a month. Maybe. I'll still be posting music links, MP3s and so on over on Twitter, if you're up on that particular malarkey, tune in.


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