Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rewind! Africa Holds On To its Tapes

The humble audio cassette has seen a recent revival due in part to the children of the 80's nostalgic for their artful mixtapes and the fuller sound afforded by the analogue recordings. Some bands are starting to even make the decision to put out their recent albums out on cassette.

But the audio cassette is not only the domain of hipsters. As the BBC noted yesterday business is booming for audio cassettes in parts of Southern Africa. So much so that Diamond Studios has opened up in Harare, becoming one of the only commercial music cassette production facilities in the world.

Bouba's music store in Dakar - Barrie McClune
For years, audio cassettes have been one of the most popular formats for music on the continent, and around much of Africa, tapes still sit alongside CDs in music stores. Artists such as Youssou N'Dour who make albums specifically for local markets will often have great albums that can only be found on tape rather than CD, let alone mp3.

Luckily for us, there is someone trawling through the mountains of musical cassettes from Africa and making them available online for us – Brooklyn's own Brian Shimkovitz. If you haven't discovered it yet, take time to look through the amazing library of music Brian has created and download some treasures: Awesome Tapes From Africa.

-Kate Bolgar Smith
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