Music from Saharan Cellphones

Music from Saharan Cellphones

This is making me feel warmer already. It’s a different kind of filesharing: in West Africa, without home PCs and broadband, music fans swap files through Bluetooth wireless transfer over their phones. They listen to the songs on their tinny built in speakers, made on home studios and given no commercial release, until now.

The songs chosen for Music from Saharan Cellphones were among the most popular from Abidjan to Bamako to Algiers. In 2010, a cassette mixtape of these tracks surfaced with many tracks unlabeled, the artists uncredited. After the creators of these mysterious songs were tracked down, a proper release was arranged with 60% of the proceeds going directly to the artists.

The official vinyl release is available for purchase here and a remix collection is here.

It’s an eclectic but accessible collection, instantly enjoyable. Tinariwen is an African-flavoured dancefloor filler; Alghafiat is like a more exotic dEUS with its fuzzy guitar riffs and hypnotically repetitive bass. Yereyira is what Timbaland would make if you took his expensive toys away. Aicha is a stirring acoustic guitar ballad that sounds like a thousand summer holidays. It’s the perfect respite from the bleak cold outside.

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