Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sahel Sounds Compilation - Songs for the North Country (2012)

Sahel Sounds is one of the finest music/cross-cultural blogs online. this is largely due to the gargantuan efforts made by founder chris kirkley who has made it his life mission to track down, record and distribute amazing music from the sahel (for one of the best compilations ever made, listen to this), compiling intimate (you'll hear a car starting, kids running around, dogs barking) and incredibly local recordings.

unfortunately many of the artists that kirkley recorded are now facing displacement, intimidation and violence due to an islamist rebellion in the north of Mali. with Songs for the North Country, a compilation of fantastic malian music that tries to help artists affected by the current conflict, sahel sounds is trying to do its share and proving - once again - to be much more than a blog . read this, download the album and make a small donation on sahel sounds, the proceedings will go directly to the artists:

The North of Mali is a varied and special place, from the muddy banks of the Niger as it navigates through the scrubby Sahel to the jagged sun backed rocks of Adrar D'Ifoghas deep in the Sahara. The landscape is at times empty and sparse, but the culture is rich, with bustling cities, thousands of sleepy villages, and countless nomad encampments. But the people in the North live a perilous existence. Money is made to be spent and there is no saving or security. Often that model works fine. Community and family is strong and people rally together to help those individuals when disaster falls. Unfortunately, the disaster right now is affecting everyone. As armed extremists have taken over the North, driving out civilians, implementing bizarre forms of Sharia law, and effectively banning music, the North of Mali has been thrown into turmoil. 

This compilation is a series of recordings taken over the past three years of various musicians, both modern and traditional. It's for sale on sliding scale. Pay what you want. 100% of the proceeds from this album will go directly to the people featured on the album. That's it. There is no bureaucracy - just Bandcamp and me walking down the Moneygram office to send off checks. There is no NGO who will redistribute the funds to everyone, so it wont help everyone. But it will go the musicians on these recordings you're listening to -- all musicians who are currently struggling in the North of Mali or refugees in exile and all who have been directly affected by the events. 

The North is trying to be silenced. But I hope these recordings can stand as a reminder of what the North was, and what it can and will be again: guitar bands rocking in the evening streets of Niafounke, children gathering at the nomad camps of the Adrar, plucked takamba in the sandy houses of Timbouctou, and wistful village melodies sung out over the banks of the Niger. 


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