Music from Saharan Cellphones

by sahelsounds

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Music from Saharan cellphones is a compilation of music collected from memory cards of cellular phones in the Saharan desert.

In much of West Africa, cellphones are 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.

The official vinyl release is available for purchase here:

The original cassette was also remixed and reinterpreted here:



released December 2, 2011

Collected in Kidal, Mali, 2009-2010 by Christopher Kirkley
Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic
Front cover graphics by Mystére
Back cover images from cellphones in Kidal



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sahelsounds Portland, Oregon

Sahelsounds is a project begun in 2009 exploring the cultural and musical phenomena of the Sahel region of West Africa. Through field recording, interviews, video, youtube archeology, cellphone data collection, sahelsounds uses archiving to transmit a story. ... more

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