Ethnic Music Direct From 78s Not For Everyone
If I have to fight with you over the logic of releasing a double LP of music transferred from 78s, just think of your battles with digital lovers over the superiority of vinyl! I'm not suggesting that the original 78s from which this absolutely fascinating and often startling compilation was sourced sound like modern, full frequency response recordings. However, in the vital midrange, the sense of "living presence" is remarkable.
But not as remarkable as the music that music historian Pat Conte has assembled and about which he writes in the gatefold liner notes. He's packed the notes with so much information and so many strange, alien names, getting through them is like walking through thickets, but if you take the time to read carefully and absorb, you will obtain an ethno-music education, or at least a narrow, dense slice of it.
Conte also traces the history of the phonograph record in Russia. The notes begin "With pine black from the German forests and Hannover and the fine shellac of Syria sent by rail, the paste for records was mixed at Aprelyeska factories....and the show began as the phonograph industry blossomed in Russia."
This set, limited to 1000 copies, is actually the fourth vinyl volume of a series originally issued on CD in 1995. It's pressed on double 180 vinyl and presents newly discovered vintage color photos presented in a deluxe Stoughton press paper on cardboard gatefold jacket.
As for the music, it's deep. Deep and mysterious, opening with an anonymous performance of Mongolian tuvan throat singing, which if you're unfamiliar, produces a buzzy sound that can slice right through your soul. The compilation concentrates on musicians from Central Asia, which includes Uzbekistan, Kirghizia, Tajikstan, Mongolia among other areas within the region.
It doesn't matter that you won't understand a word. The folk melodies are hauntingly beautiful and many a contemporary pop tune has probably been lifted from these melodies, a few of which sound very R.E.M.—ish.
They came before the microphone with exotic names like Sh.Dzhuraev & Family, Tatyana Makharadze and Ali Kerimova, probably not realizing that their heartfelt, humble performances would immortalize them and that fascinated listeners would enjoy their music making for decades if not centuries later.