Thursday, October 28, 2010


It is just one of the many remarkable things that have changed in music in the past ten years. International music has gone, uh, international. Before the availability of just about any music, at any time, was commonplace, even the largest record stores devoted only a sliver of shelf space to music from other countries. Now that there are consumers actively looking for obscure titles, collectors are out hunting, and labels with long stagnant titles are issuing compilations at a dizzying pace. All this is great, especially if you're the sort of person that has found themselves bored with familiar music, and the regurgitation of long established styles.
Frank Gossner, of Voodoo Funk, takes the record hunt to new levels in Africa.
Early on, before the internet made international music readily available, many of the recordings issued in the U.S. were rather academic in their approach. Labels like Folkways, and early on Elektra, took anthropological tacks, and though the music may have been inviting, the lack of flair limited their appeal to, for lack of a better description, music eggheads. One pre-mp3 label that tried to change that was David Byrne's Luaka Bop. Byrne's obsession with Brazillian music lead to licensing deals, and after being coupled with some snappy packaging, before you knew it, hipsters of yore were listening. After the label gained popularity, Byrne found himself annoyed enough with the marginalizing of international music by the labeling of it as "World Music" that he wrote an excellent essay entitled "I Hate World Music." It pretty much makes the case that we (Westerners) are jerks to put so much emphasis on Western music, that we lump everything else into one umbrella category.

Today you can find international music smattered all over music blogs, with artists initially known very little outside of their geographical homes now given second lives, with some becoming full-on internet driven icons. The music below is just some of the music on one post alone at Mixtape Riot. Nigeria, Peru, and Columbia are represented. And on his next post (which is what reminded me how awesome it is to have international music at our fingertips) he covers some Middle Eastern music.

Ebo Taylor - Victory mp3 at Mixtape Riot
Ebo Taylor - Mizin mp3 at Mixtape Riot
Mad Man Jaga - Hankuri mp3 at Mixtape Riot
Bongos Ikwue & The Groovies -Otachikpopo at Mixtape Riot
Mongo Santamaria - O Mi Shango mp3 at Mixtape Riot
Son Palenque - Paleque Palenque at Mixtape Riot
Los Silvertones -Carmen at Mixtape Riot
Further digging (and this is just a few):
Mixtape Riot
Voodoo Funk (many mixes there!)
Awesome Tapes From Africa
Underground Uncovered
Global Groovers
Soul Sides
I Hate World Music by David Byrne, NY Times 10.3.99

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