One of a comprehensive series of field recordings of calls to prayer made by Myke Dodge Weiskopf, also known as ShortWaveMusic, throughout Mali in January 2012. I was fortunate enough to spend several weeks in Turkey several years ago, and can certainly empathize with Weiskopf’s fascination with the resonance of the prayers: acoustic, geographic and cultural. The fidelity and ambiance of the recordings varies greatly, as will listeners’ preferences.
Some of the recordings are delivered unadulterated, generally with the associated human and vehicle traffic of the daylight. ‘2012-01-10: Sikasso – Adhan al-Fajr’ is notable for the spatial juxtaposition of muezzins singing in and out of sync with similarly sinusoidal harmony and dissonance. For stretches of the piece, a listener would be forgiven for mistaking this interplay for a series of variable pitch oscillators. Certainly worthwhile pieces of ethnomusicology.
On the other hand, the post-processing of several of the tracks seems to add digital artifice as much as it removes ambient noise. While a purist will find it distracting, given the quantity of material presented some listeners may find this a curious and refreshing angle. ‘Ségou – Adhan al-Fajr (from street)’ in particular finds itself featuring the shadow modulation of heavily processed fields, with particular tones turning aqueous in the mix. I am guessing this editing was done in the interest of accentuating the vocals themselves, in which case such odd dynamics are incidental. However, it is those moments of confusing compression of engine drone, barks, crickets, bit rot and amplified voice that are the most evocative of place and prayer.
Recommended work available at Bandcamp. It should also be mentioned that $10 of every $15 raised on the project will be donated to VILLAGE VENTURES, a non-governmental organization based in Diema, Mali. More information is available at diemavillage.wordpress.com/village-ventures/ and www.villageventures.co.uk.