21ST CENTURY REISSUES

The September issue of Frieze just hit newstands, containing an essay of mine:


frieze sept 08 cover - african funk reissue article

The hunt for rare African funk records raises questions about how the digitized music of the 21st century will be archived.
full article online!

3 thoughts on “21ST CENTURY REISSUES”

  1. This past June I was in Ghana for three weeks. My husband is a record collector, so of course my most important task while there was to find records. Upon arrival I learn from my Fulbright scholar musicologist guide that there are no records in Accra, only cassettes (but what a treasure trove there are, as you know!). So of course, I’m totally bummed about this and give up on trying to find the coveted discs.

    Towards the end of my trip we were about 6 hours to the west of Accra at a beach shack. The British owner just happens to tell my friend the musicologist that he has found vinyl in Accra. Apparently, you have to go around the corner from the main branch of a local bank, turn left, find the fork in the road, and on the left corner, ask for the Rasta guy. He has LPs. I think to myself: right, like I’m ever going to find that place, and once again give up.

    But on my last day there I find myself at said bank and call the musicologist friend to ask him how I might find the Rasta guy. He gives me directions, and I start following them. I ask everyone on the potential corner if they know someone selling records. Records? You know, music records. CDs? No records, LPs, vinyl, big music discs. Ohhh…yeah, go over to that shack and ask for the Rasta guy. Finally the man himself emerges and asks me what kind of music I am looking for. Ghanaian music, of course! So he has some boys start bringing out stacks. The first pile comes out and it’s a small stack of badly, scratched, moldy but fabulous looking music. Sadly, none of this is worthy of taking home. Then another stack comes out, with a few worthwhile pieces. And then another, and another. I finally have about 1000 records in front of me when I tell them to stop. And manage to get a small stack of music that looks like it will probably play in front of me. I ask the Rasta guy how much he wants for them. $30 each!! This is West Africa, so one expects an outrageous price quote at first, but this is insane. These things are scratched to hell, and either have no covers, or the covers are falling off and chewed away by mold. I explain. He says they will play. I explain that I am a record collector and an audiovisual archivist, and no, many of these will not play. He gives in a little. We go back and forth and finally settle on $3 each. After that we have a nice, friendly chat. He tells me that Germans come here all the time and are willing to pay $20 per record. Fascinating.

    I am in fact an AV archivist, and have other thoughts on your article in regards to collecting and preserving digital content. But I think I’ve written enough for now. Just wanted to share my West African record hunting experience, as it seemed to fit with the article.

    Oh, and the records I ended up taking home sound excellent!

  2. Really nice piece Jace. Have been thinking that this kind of emphasis on record collectors and the some of the wide range of everyday habits of archiving (sampling, reprocessing, compiling, playlists, DJ mixes) are more important for theorizing the way the past becomes the future than the ethnocentric/western perspectives of hauntology explored by Simon Reynolds and K-Punk.

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