Michel Delaporte – Les Itineraires De L’Evasion – L’Afrique Noire

One of the stranger releases posted here; not for the content (a straight-forward if well-recorded compilation of drumming styles from all over the African continent), but rather for the method of presentation. At a cursory listen, it appears a number of the tracks were recorded with the outdoor environmental ambiance of the recording event itself. Given its year of release of 1975, this would seem a fairly contemporary approach – historically ethnomusicology has tended to view the sound environment as a barrier to recording.

After another listen, I realized the field recordings were added in post-production – fading and swelling at different intervals than the music. It turns out that the recordings were actually performed by Michel Delaporte and composed based on travels he made to the various countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Benin, Niger, Mali and Senegal) depicted on the fantastically hokey rear cover. An occidental reaction to audio-tourism that I would probably have dismissed if I didn’t find the difficulty of reconciliation between music and sound, original and mimic, field and studio, theatricality and earnestness all rather amusing.

Of course, every time I read ‘Les Itineraires De L’Evasion’ my English brain sees ‘Itineraries of the Invasion’, which is probably colouring my thoughts on the record. Nonetheless, despite the odd affectations of the recording, Delaporte actually makes quite good homages to the various drumming styles presented here. Characterizing this dichotomy are the syncopations of the frame drums and mbira on ‘Mombasa’ playing over-top of both natural and very clearly synthesized bird (maybe ‘jungle’ is the term I should be using) sounds.

A weird piece of ‘exotica’ that foretells the following decade’s collaborations between west and east. Of course, maybe best to listen to the real thing.

Get it here.

Old link.