Music from Saharan cellphones is a compilation of music collected from memory cards of cellular phones in the Saharan desert. The World Music Network have discovered this intriguing release, produced by Christopher Kirkley, courtesy of Sahelsounds.com
In much of West Africa, cellphones are used as all purpose multimedia devices. In lieu of personal computers and high speed internet, the knockoff cellphones house portable music collections, playback songs on tinny built in speakers, and swap files in a very literal peer to peer Bluetooth wireless transfer.
The songs chosen for the compilation were some of the highlights - music that is immensely popular on the unofficial mp3/cellphone network from Abidjan to Bamako to Algiers, but have limited or no commercial release. They're also songs that tend towards this new world of self production - Fruity Loops, home studios, synthesizers, and Autotune.
In 2010, various versions of saharan cellphone music were released on cassette. Many of the songs were unlabeled, giving no insight to their mysterious origins. In the past year, the artists have been tracked down to collaborate on a commercial release. As such, 60% of the proceeds go directly to the artists. Have a listen below!
Buy the digital album here.
The official vinyl release is available for purchase here.
The original cassette was also remixed and reinterpreted here.