Music From Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2

I suppose you could call Christopher Kirkley the audiophile’s linguist. He travels the world researching and documenting the music of largely unknown traditional cultures and their relationship with modern technology.

I’ve been reading his blog since October last year when he posted his first mixtape – one of my most exciting musical finds of 2010. He’s just posted Volume 2 of Music From Saharan Cellphones. A mixtape compiled from discarded* cellphones in Sahel region of West Africa.

Download link and more about Christopher’s latest mixtape after the jump.

*Edit (via sahelsounds): Just to clarify, the music was not collected from “discarded” or “abandoned” cellular phones as has been reported. It’s sort of funny, the notion that one could find memory cards or cellphones lying around in the trash. No, although an interesting story, the music was simply copied.

Music From Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2

Music From Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1

As all the weary passengers sit, they all are pulling out cellphones, and soon the mass is illuminated by little square blue screens. There is no cellular phone reception here — this is not important. They are not making calls. Rather, what ensues is an orchestra of tinny digital audio, a menagerie of sound, beamed out like starlight over the plain.

As ubiquitous media devices, they are perhaps most used in sharing and exchange of files, particularly bluetooth transfers of mp3s. While in Kidal I collected memory cards from cellphones and copied loads of mp3s — ranging from Tamashek guitar, Algerian Raï, Coupé Décalé, Kuduro, Hip Hop, as well as loads of Arabic “Habibe” pop, French ballads, Bollywood hits, and Dire Straits — some of which I’ve put out on a few cassette mix tapes.

Music from Saharan Cellphones Vol. 2 — more of the same, if not an increased selection of sounds from Mauritania (referred to as “Jagwa” collectively east of Shinqit). Again, all mp3s collected in the town ofKidal, the quintessential desert crossroad. Some of the track titles are lost to the id3 dustbin of history, but the tracklist is best replicated here, with a few creative flourishes:

Side A:

Mdou – Niger

Mouma Bob – Imidi

Amanar – Alghafait

Fenomenal – Mix



Side B:

Pekele – Decale

علي سيدح عبدي فون


Lalal-Kanaye – Soul Tamasheq


Nouakchott 48 hours

Bayta – Aicha

If you’re interested in traditional cultures, new (and new-old) musicical sounds and insightful commentary visit Chris’s blog, sahelsounds.