Precious comp’ from Ostinato Records: ‘Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn Of Africa’

Ostinato Records’ Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn Of Africa
is a beautiful compilation of sacred music that charts the musical landscape of pre-war Somalia.

Dur Dur Band

The archive provides an audio history of Mogadishu in the 1970s and 1980s when the coastal capital was known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. Bands like Iftiin, Sharero, and the Dur Dur Band rocked some of the best nightclubs in East Africa and singers such as Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen, Faadumo Qaasim, Hibo Nuura, and Sahra Dawo wowed the revelers. The three aforementioned female singers were often more prolific than their male counterparts and half the compilation is sung by women.

Somali music’s golden age occurred during a socialist military dictatorship and a nationalised music industry. Music was recorded by national radio stations and only disseminated through public broadcasts or live performances. The music was never made available for mass release and there were virtually no private labels or distributors. Somalia was backed by both the U.S and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, with Western music also influencing music at certain times.

Somalia’s authoritarian ruler Siad Barre launched punishing air strikes on the north of the country in 1988, known today as Somaliland. The people there had been pushing for independence and the intense bombing leveled the city. Barre also targeted Radio Hargeisa to disable a central communication system that could organise a resistance. In the face of the attack a few brave radio operators and dedicated protectors of Somali culture wanted to preserve the archives that contained over half a century’s worth of Somali music. Thousands of cassette tapes and master reels were quickly removed and buried in neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Sahra Dawo

All of these artifacts were excavated very recently and are now kept safe in the 10,000-strong cassette tape archive of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest collection of Somali cassettes in the world, in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. The Ostinato Records team has digitised 15 songs for this precious release. Most of it has never been heard outside of Somalia and the immediate region.

Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen

Click here for the Ostinato Records Bandcamp.

Tour of Mogadishu by Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb and Cameroon comp news

Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb has unpacked some finds from a recent trip to Mogadishu and is preparing to drop a new compilation of music from Cameroon.

The tracklisting for the new compilation of Pop Makossa – The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976–1984 looks absolutely monstrous bringing together rare and in demand records from artists such as Bill Loko and Eko.

It is out on June 16 and features: (1) Dream Stars – Pop Makossa Invasion (2) Mystic Djim & The Spirits – Yaoundé Girls (3) Bill Loko – Nen Lambo (4) Pasteur Lappé – Sanaga Calypso (5) Eko – M’ongele M’am (6) Olinga Gaston – Ngon Engap (7) Emmanuel Kahe et Jeanette Kemogne – Ye Medjuie (8) Nkodo Si-Tony – Mininga Meyong Mese (9) Pasteur Lappé – The Sekele Movement (10) Bernard Ntone – Mussoliki (11) Pat’ Ndoye – More Love (12) Clément Djimogne – Africa

The Mogadishu finds are revealed in the recent and brilliant radio show for Worldwide FM by the Analog Africa main man as he passed through London to master the forthcoming Cameroon compilation and play the Love & Unity Party as Analog Africa Soundsystem.

Another solid year for Analog Africa is in store.