I woke up at noon and the coupe decale had been replaced by Coumba Sidibe, a matriarchal Wassoulou singer from Mali. I figured we were listening to the radio. Turns out it was a tape. The pratike, the driver’s mate, had matched the soundtrack to the landscape.
When you travel from the green humid coast to the red scrubby interior of West Africa, the sounds change as much as the scenery (see this). For the past year and a half, I have been collecting these sounds. What I’m working on now is a collection of tracks that will take you on this voyage.
The trip starts in Accra, and specifically the Newtown neighborhood that is most familiar to me. The first track is one I posted previously, a chopped up remix of 2 recordings taken from 2 different minibuses of a poppy gospel highlife song that was on the radio last year.
The second track is pinned down by a commercial jingle for a brand of pasta called Gino. This commercial airs on ViaSat 1, the shiniest TV channel in Ghana. In crowded Newtown, where sounds overlap and collide constantly, the gino jingle regularly sails through my window. This commercial has been on TV for over a year now. Other bits of sound in this track include an iphone recording of a bar blasting tunes through blown out speakers and some beatwork that I put together.
Both of these are unmastered and unmixed. The second one has a low, low volume until I work on it some more. The idea is to have the tracks flow into each other, making a fluid transition from coast to Sahel. The closing tracks will put you in Mali. I will post pieces of this project as it comes together.
I don’t really know what I’m doing most of the time, but this is a fun way to explore a place. If you want to collaborate on this, get in touch on the contact page.
Here is some bonus hiplife for you, circa 2005
Next post from Abidjan. More posts to come about my all too short time in Ghana. I will also link to the How to Draw Camels post on Medicine on the Move and Ghana’s female aviators (see previous post if you are confused) once it goes live. For now, check out this piece I recently wrote about shadowing a community health worker from Project Muso in Bamako – yet another organization that deserves to have their profile raised for their innovative approach to public health.