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Various Artists: Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World's Music

Jakob Baekgaard BY

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Various Artists: Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World's Music
Every audio medium has its champions from CD oldies to tape hipsters and lossless purists, but those who like to play big discs with a needle instead of a laser should not be lumped into such a vulgar category as vinyl revivalists. It's both a question of material and size, and true afficionados prefer the fragile format of 78s made of shellac.

One of them is Jonathan Ward, who runs the sound blog Excavated Shellac, posting rare global music originally released on shellac. The list of countries included is breathtaking. Clearly, Ward's musical aim isn't just American or European but includes every corner of the world. Another admirable aspect about the project is that it's not just about posting sound. The music comes with notes, some of them quite lengthy and very well-written, combining the enthusiasm of the collector with the nerdy knowledge of the scholar. In short, Excavated Shellac is a universe, a huge library of sound to get lost in, but it's also a bit overwhelming, and so it's nice that Ward has compiled a miniature digital collection that reflects his intention with the blog, and yet, it is also something else. The tracks on the compilation are all "new," chosen from Ward's collection, and represent a different spin on the wonderful world of shellac.

It must also be admitted that with 100 tracks, the collection isn't so miniature, and the ambitions are not small either, as reflected by the title: Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World's Music. The compilation is released on Dust to Digital and while the lack of a physical format might signal low budget, the release is anything but that. There is music from six continents and 89 different countries, spanning a period from 1907 to 1967. Even with the very old recordings, the sound is surprisingly nuanced and clear, and the 186 page PDF-booklet is a designer's dream and a little work of art, richly illustrated with detailed notes and translations of lyrics.

The most important thing is the music. With so much diversity, there should be something for everyone's taste, but that is not to say that everything will be palatable to every listener. A raw recording of multiphonic Tibetan Buddhist throat singing is certainly a long way from easy listening pop, but that is also the strength of the compilation. It finds beauty in sounds that span everything from Portuguese fado to Cuban son, unaccompanied Irish folk singing and Jamaican mento.

The greatest thrill of the compilation is to hear genres and styles that are unfamiliar, like the dreamy "Z Ukrainskyce Stepiw" (On the Ukranian Steppe) by Vassyl Yemetz, played on the 62-stringed bandura, or "Erraad, Pt. 2" by Zohra El Fassia. Interestingly, this beautiful song is an example of how Jewish and Muslim musical influences merged in Morocco. It's a keen reminder that music transgresses cultural and geographical boundaries and if we can't travel to meet each other, at least we can listen.

Track Listing

Caluza's Double Quartet - Abaqafi (South Africa); Los Chinacos - Zacamandú (Mexico); Itokazu Kame - Hatoma- bushi (Okinawa, Japan); Cheikh Saïd Relizani - Denhar Mabrouk, Pt. 1 (Algeria); Enosse Kuhanya Muni - O Ta Nikona (Mozambique); Bonfiglio de Oliveira - Lembrancas do Passado (Brazil); Giovanni Vicari - Rose D'Italia (Italy); K. S. Narayana Ayyengar - Mokshamu Galadha, Pt 1 (Saramathi) (India); Hosseingholi Tatayy - Shur (Iran); Ne'matjon Qulabdullaev - Bilmasang Bilgil (Uzbekistan); Che Ta'seah - Lenggang Mak Inang (Malaysia); Demka dhe Hajro e Shoket - Këngë e Mahmudisë (Albania); Liam Walsh - Portlaw Reel (Ireland); Šule Radosavljevič- Šapčanin - Jeleno, Momo Jeleno (Serbia); Klaudiya Kotok and E.M. Shishova - Razvogor Dvuh Podrug (Russia); Fr. Dukli Wiejska Banda - Na Wykretke (Poland); Triki-Trixa de Zumarraga - Ez Dago Larrosarik (The Basque, Spain); Margarida, Cantadeira de Paredes - Caninha Verde (Portugal); Andrés Chazarreta y su Orquesta Tipica de Arte Nativo - La Doble (Argentina); Cuadro Gitano La Coja, featuring Concha Maya - Fandangos del Albaicín (Andalusia, Spain); Cuarteto Caraquita - Las Bellas Noches de Maiquetia (Venezuela); Sein Bo Tint - Aung Pa Khei Ti Loun (Burma); Park Booyong - Shin-Gosahn Taryong (Korea) ; Ali Muhammadi - Vitha (Sudan); Hanns in der Gand - Chant de Guerre Fribourgeois (Switzerland); Chimudon, Mashibato, and Togus Ziguradan - The Venerable Genghis Khan (Mongolia); Muhammad Rashid al-Rifa’i - Ya Ghusain Alban, Pt 1 (Bahrain); Negatoua - Ya Bati Zefen (Ethiopia); Picoğlu Osman - Sıksara Horon Havası (Turkey); Miyagi Michio, Yoshida Kyoto, and Miyagi Sayoko - Sakura Variations, Pt. 2 (Japan); Paulos Dikito - Hendeyi Kumunda (Zimbabwe); Saez y Hermanos Ascuez - Pregonero (Peru); Grupo Istmeño - Coge el Pandero Que Se Te Va (Panama); Orchestre Franco-Creole - Prend Yo (Haiti); Khaledi and Zahedi - Bayāt-e Tork, Pt. 2 (Iran); Mita Stoyecheva - Da Znaya Mamo, Da Znaya (Bulgaria); Myskal Omurkanova - Oilo Sen (Kyrgyzstan); Miss Thông - Chinh Phụ Ngâm, Pt 1 (Vietnam); Vassyl Yemetz - Z Ukrainskyce Stepiw (Ukraine); Abaimbi be Kanisa Lutiko eye Namirembe - Oje Omwoyo Omutukuvu (Uganda); Nicholas De Heer - Osibonibom (Ghana); Tamarii-Tahiti - Haere Roa Roa (Tahiti); Count Lasher - Perseverance (Jamaica); Paykān - Khayāl Dilbar (Afghanistan); Zohra El Fassia - Erraad, Pt 2 (Morocco); Gavino de Lunas - Cantu Pastorale (Sardinia); Coro de Ruada - Foliada de Orense (Galicia, Spain); Crimean Tatar Orchestra - Taksim ve Peshraf (Crimea); Júlio Silva - Fado Melancólico (Portugal); Salim Abdullah - Kwaherini (Tanzania); Adja Mint Aali - El Khar (Mauritania); Siddiq and Party - Sun Kay Gal Nawab Nai (Punjab); Khan Shushinski - Qarabağ Şikəstəsi (Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan); J. Joseph and Mary - Safarini (Kenya); Ewert Åhs - Evertsbergs Gamla Brudmarsch (Sweden); Orchestre Créole Delvi - Du Feu Prix en Tête Man Nordé (Martinique); Trio Medellín - La Morena (Veracruz, Mexico); Pasquale Taraffo - Sonatina in A Major (Italy); Cayla and Demay - Lo Mourolliado (Auvergne, France); Dachauer Bauernkapelle “Strassmaier” - Niederbayrischer Halbwalzer (Germany); A. Megrelidze and the Georgian Radio Folk Song Ensemble - Rostom Chabuki (Georgia); Tiwonoh and Sandikola - Tilondo le Phepo (Malawi); Sears Orchestra - Bela Aurora (Azores, Portugal); Poeu Sipho and Poeu Van John - Sompoung Klay (Cambodia); Toba Batak ensemble - Riak-Riak (Sumatra, Indonesia); Emmanuele Cilia - Iz-Zakkiek (Malta); Mayfair Band - Gathering Peascods (England); Wei Zhongyue - Shimian Maifu, Pt. 1 (China); Subeit bin Ambar - Taksim Hijazi (Zanzibar, Tanzania); Koni Coumaré - Dabatako (Mali); Yusuf Taj - Yahya Al-Zaman Illi Jama’na (Lebanon); Monks of the Maru Monastery at Lhasa - Tse-Chu Cho-Pa (The Offering on the Tenth) (Tibet, China); Francis Salomon - Dans la Ville Mahebourg (Mauritius); Philip Tanner - The Gower Reel (Wales, United Kingdom); Hernández Brothers - Sérénade (Sing, Smile, Slumber) (Columbia); Sigbjørn B. Osa - Bjølleslåtten (Norway); Durban Lions - Maheshe (South Africa); Tunde King - Arthur Prest (Nigeria); El Haja Rouïda - Mallaly, Pt 1 (Morocco); Margareta Radulescu - Mamă! Tata Când Mai Vine (Romania); Tom Clough - The Keel Row (Northumberland, United Kingdom); Superba Molassana - A Partenza da Parigi (Genoa, Italy); Valentin Eugenio - Piritipit (Philippines); San Salvador - Narciso Ku Matadi (Congo); Rakotondrasoa and Manjakaray - Rakoto O! (Madagascar); Elenkrig’s Orchestra - Lebedeg (New York, United States); Ahmet Hulûsi Bey - Hacı Yârim (Turkey); Setrak Sourabian and George Shah-Baronian - Hay Aghchig (Armenia); Miss Phuaphan and Miss Pleng with the Organ-Phinphat Ensemble of Bang Khun Phrom Palace - Lakhon Rong Rueang Phali Yat Lohit, Pt 12 (Thailand); Angus Chisholm - Mr Murray; The £10 Fiddle; The Baker (Cape Breton, Canada); Kolompár Peti Cigánybandája - Borozó Csárdás Egyveleg (Hungary); Atan and Sak Ena - Dondang Sayang Singapora, Pt 4 (Singapore/Malaysia); Al Hadj Taha Abu Mandour - Al Sama’i al-Thaqil (Egypt); Gonxhe Manakovska - More Musa (North Macedonia); Saramacca Band - Moengo Boto Blon (Suriname); Kawîs Axa - Bîlmez, Pt. 1 (Iraq); Garifulla Kurmangaliyev - Asylzhan (Kazakhstan); Ishmulla Dilmukhametov - Hyr (Bashkortostan, Russia); Abrew’s Portuguese Instrumental Trio - Valsa Continental (Cape Verde); Sexteto Habanero - Son las dos…China (Cuba).

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Various Artists.

Album information

Title: Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World's Music | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Dust To Digital

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