June 25, 2007
The beautifully designed Mareva was a painfully short-lived label maintained by amateur French ethnographers Adolphe Sylvain and Marc Darnois, and sold on the waterfront in Tahiti ca. 1949-1950, and likely in France. Super scarce. The records feature authentic folk music of Tahiti as well as music from neighboring Tahitian islands. From what I can deduce, fewer than 30 discs were issued on Mareva. They were pressed in France and sold both separately, and in a box with photographs by Sylvain. From the sound of this recording, it seems to me as if they were dubbed from original acetates which Sylvain and Darnois recorded in the field.
I seem to be stuck on accordion music lately too, so I thought I’d pass this rarity along. I find the singing a real treat.
(If you’d like to hear more from the Sylvain and Darnois archives, a different track exists on Yazoo’s Secret Museum of Mankind, Volume 5 CD.)
Issue Number: 115
Matrix Number: Part 13485-1PD
June 21, 2007
This track hails from the Auvergne region of France, and is an authentic bourée – a folkdance usually in double-time whose origins date back to the 17th century. Performing here are Jean Pradal on accordion, and Martin Cayla on the cabrette, the Auvergne bagpipe traditionally made of goatskin. (There are other types of bagpipes from different regions in France I’ve been able to find examples of on 78, such as the binioú kozh from Brittany, which are more reedy and high-pitched.)
Cayla was a popular folk musician of the time and the man behind the short-lived Le Soleil record label, which, as far as I can tell, was in existence from the late 20s to the early 30s. Despite the sometimes cruddy pressing quality, there’s great music on this label – besides fantastic accordion and cabrette jams, there are excellent examples of banjo and hurdy-gurdy playing as well. I’ve been lucky enough to find a bunch of them, several of which came from the collection of a certain cartoonist residing in the south of France. Even his cast-offs are great! I’m not worthy!
Label: Le Soleil
Issue Number: 221
Matrix Number: C 221
June 7, 2007
African acoustic guitar music is, for me, some of the more sublime music in the world. And certainly some of the greatest examples came from what was then the Belgian Congo, right around the mid-century mark.
Ngoma remains the most important Congolese record label, as well as one of the most important labels in all of Africa. It was started by two Greek brothers, Nico and Alexandros Jéronimidis, around 1948. Not only did they record well over a thousand discs, the first to capture all manner of Congolese musical styles (the rumba, cha-cha, and solo acoustic guitar picking of course), but they encouraged experimentation by their musicians. Ngoma records were pressed in France and distributed primarily in Central Africa – Congo and Cameroon especially – and as such are, well, impossible to find. Not only that, but all the Ngoma masters were long ago lost in a warehouse fire. As if that wasn’t enough, the company then donated all of its file copies to the Congolese government, only to have those destroyed during political strife.
Here’s a nice guitar duet by Georges Edouard and Manuel D’Oliveira, released sometime in the late 40s-early 50s.
Absolutely worth searching out are two collections of Ngoma material, released on CD in the late 90s. The first contains all 78rpm material and is titled “Ngoma: The Early Years.” The second is mostly 45rpm Ngoma records, and is titled “Ngoma: Souvenir ya l’Independence.” I’m not sure if they’re even technically in print anymore, but they’re definitely worth digging up.
And the next two weeks are crazy for me – next post after the 18th.
I hope you enjoy this one.
Issue Number: 380
Matrix Number: J-764-2