26 January 2006

Global Culture News

Unlike that proverbial tree in the forest, global culture doesn't stop happening when SoundRoots doesn't report it for a spell. Indeed, away from Iraq, Alito, and Big Brother, some curious things are afoot.

My own ever-expanding global music collection pales in comparison to that of KCRW "Cafe LA" host Tom Schnabel, whose home and obsessions are documented in an interview in the LA Times. Though I'd love to know more details about his filing system....

Zimbabwe is pressing university students to learn Mandarin Chinese as part of President Mugabe's "Look East" policy. The government is looking east because its policies have alienated many of its former friends in the West. "It seems they are trying every political gimmick to lure the Chinese into this country to bankroll their bankrupt regime," says the president of the Zimbabwe National Association of Student Unions, Washington Katema. Read more from the BBC.

A fascinating article in today's Christian Science Monitor documents current developments in the ongoing evolution of religion in Africa, where since colonial times imported (or imposed) religions, including various flavors of Christianity and Islam, have merged with African traditional religions. "Amid intense sectarian violence in this half- Muslim, half-Christian country, these groups serve as tolerant peacemakers. Also, with widespread poverty and health concerns here, people are seeking practical, profitable religion more than rigid doctrine."

Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu is teaming up with P.O.D., and you can read about their musical marriage at mtv.com.

While the Grammys may not tell you much about the quality of music, they certainly can be a stepping stone to recognition. Mali's Amadou & Mariam are riding high on their nomination, popping up in shows all over the planet and getting nice writeups everywhere from RelishNow ("a spicy mix of things to do in Northwest North Carolina") to CNN. Though I defy you to explain how their album with Manu Chao -- Dimanche a Bamako -- however popular, is qualitatively better than their non-Manu albums.

Finally, a reminder that you have just a few days left to enter SoundRoots' January CD giveaway by leaving a non-anonymous (and at least vaguely relevant) comment. The contest runs through the end of January, and the randomly selected winner will receive
the 2-CD set Sound of the World, compiled by the BBC's Charlie Gillett. You need not be present at SoundRoots headquarters to win.


Anonymous said...

Well, Tom Schnabel's story is impressive. Everyone tells me my 20,000 songs are a lot, but I feel like there's so much I haven't heard. Now I know.

I also have found myself in serious arguments regarding surround sound vs stereo, digital vs analog. I would have spent about 10 times as much on my collection in order to go lossless (storage alone), and vinyl is hard to come by. Once I get a decent sound system, I'll probably search out specific albums or tracks on vinyl. For now, the iPod will do.

SpinTheGlobe said...

Thanks for your visit, Lee. I'm not such an audiophile that it's an issue of vinyl vs. anything else; vinyl is just too cumbersome for the payoff. But I do feel the conflict between digital and physical media.

Someday all digital songs will have good embedded info, I imagine, but until then I often find them lacking. Since I do radio as well as listening for pleasure, I need that info (song name, artist name, album, label, year), and also love having the album and song notes provided with the physical object. As you can tell, I like sharing information and context, not just music alone.