(Mr Bongo Recordings)
As the global tentacles of the music industry thrash around trying to find ways of flogging the old, dressed up as new, the genre of `world music` emerged and with it the micro industries of record labels, magazines, DVD`s, festivals and all the truly awful paraphernalia marketed around niche markets. In the midst of this palaver, we must somehow stay focused, calm and not lose our critical edge.
Who most often controls and markets the sub sub-niches of this white middle class genre construction? Who decides what is `valid`, `good`, `authentic`, denoting `classic album status` and all the other cliches that glue a marketing campaign together? Of course its been going on since blues and country drunkenly fucked each other down a dark alley. The blues got pregnant and they called the baby Rock n` Roll. This we know, so, regardless of the BAD old music industry cliche ridden grinding and gnashing of gums, "pick something else to have a moan about," I think we should look a bit more closely at this particular construct, the cheesily and, handily-blandly named, World Music. Give it some thought, go on, I dare you?
Ok. I ain't doing the thinking for you, but suffice to say, beware, watch out, be alert... you won't have to look far to see that it's not the indigenous people, not the creators and guardians of their ownancestry, the tellers of history and herstory, that are making the dollars, no, they have got the vulture cultures picking their bones clean. I can hear you stifle a yawn, scratch yourself and ask; Whats new then? Well its still going on. Right under yours and my noses. You could even be buying it, for Allah or Buddha`s sake...Think on...
All-Peruvian Novalima are one group who have stood up for their culture and heritage. They have released an album called Afro, on the small but beautifully formed Mr Bongo Recordings. Novalima actively wanted to keep cultural-ownership of their music, in the names of their forefathers and mothers who originally began to make it. The ones who lived it. Their music goes back hundreds of years to slavery, when Africans were shipped to European colonies in the Americas. The pain endured has been documented across generations through story, poem, music and song. Novalima have taken up the baton from the inspirational black Poet and musician Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Cruz felt compelled to chronicle his meticulous exploration and study of Afro-Peruvian culture in his work `Cumanana - Antologia Peruana`, containing poetry and music, in 1964. A second edition was published in 1965. What compelled him? He could not sit and watch the fears and sufferings that his people had poured into songs, poems and music simply die. They were played at parties, social gatherings and other important events. Hidden and huddled within sexual rites and practices, flamboyant and showy games and the exaggerated gesture of rhythmic dance, the tales lived on. Cruz feared that these aesthetics would be lost forever, subsumed by what he named the `hollywoodification` of Afro-Peruvian culture.
Novalima follow Cruz's giant footsteps; Peruvians who have chronicled the narratives of previous black Peruvians, Afro-Peruvians, `Afro` generations, sealing them in a tribute album that ensures their continued relevance, for all to hear. The album is cooking. Afro is hot, funky, rhythmic, exhilarating, original, cultural, powerful, tinged with sorrow, melancholy and pain. It contains songs, samples and lyrics from their forefathers. One of the Novalima musician`s, Manque vasquez, is the grandson of Porfirio Vasquez, thought of as the founding father of Afro-Peruvian, Afro music.
There's more info to be found at http://www.novalima.net/
Novalima hold the cards. I`ve marked yours. Go buy it.
Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.