With so much music freely available online, the idea of scouring the back streets of Africa for long-forgotten vinyl singles seems profoundly anachronistic. But sometimes visionaries have to swim against the cultural tide. Tunisian-born Samy Ben Redjeb is part of an elite cadre of equatorial crate-diggers working to redraw the musical map of the world.
He started collecting original African vinyl while in Senegal in the mid-90s, and supported his record-hunting habit by working as an air steward. His tireless voyaging has borne fruit: Redjeb’s label, Analog Africa, has put out several compilations of vintage funk and psychedelia which are giving Western attitudes to African music a radical reboot.
Yet the project is about more than just broadcasting the music. “That’s only 50 per cent of it,” Redjeb explains. “If you want to appreciate the music, you need to understand where it comes from. For example, several tracks from The Vodoun Effect were recorded in a garden, at night, next to an airport – the pause button of the recorder had to be pressed every time a plane took off.”
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey – Gbeti Madjro