Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cambodian vocal-only cassette

It was cold today. Not New York cold. Minneapolis cold. It's 11 degrees as I type this, warmed by a hissing radiator and the voice - the virtually naked, unmanipulated voice - of (presumably) the woman pictured on the cover of this cassette I found several hours earlier at Battambang Market II in the Bronx.

It's a remarkable recording. Six of its eight tracks consist of nothing but this woman singing, sans accompaniment of any kind. The other two tracks - each side's last - are traditional Khmer instrumentals. 

There aren't any albums I can think of that feature just a solo voice, unmediated (save, in this instance, for bit of reverb or room echo). I can think of a couple that feature one person's voice multitracked a number of times over itself (e.g., Japanese beatboxer Dokaka's Human Interface).

I love overlay, generally; but this cassette is something entirely different. There's a bit of reverb. Otherwise, it's just this voice. Singing, lamenting, pleading. Breathing. You can hear her breathe in between every. Single. Phrase. 

It's otherworldly. I picked up a number of other things at Battambang today, but this was just so uniquely beautiful, I had to share it with you before anything else.

Happy New Year.

Link to recording in comments.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lost Lost Lost | Special 5-hour show

Inspired by Jonas Mekas's multi-hour, epic home movie, we presented a very personal, five-hour sonic collage-memory of two decades of music collecting in New York’s slowly disappearing immigrant-owned bodegas and media stores

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Spice Ray | Spice Ray

Another cassette found on the grimy shelves of Nassem Halal Meat and Mediterranean Grocery in Astoria, Queens, Spice Ray is almost certainly an attempt to piggy back on the success of nineties Britpop sensations, Spice Girls. 

And that is precisely the point where any similarity between Spice Girls and Spice Ray evaporates like the 91% alcohol I used to clean the tape head prior to ripping this distinctly odd example of Moroccan pop.

I had erroneously thought this was an Algerian album; it is not. First, an Algerian in an Algerian music collectors' group on FB let me know it wasn't Algerian, and then our blog neighbor Tim confirmed that it indeed sounds Moroccan, not Algerian.

Tim sent along a track list and two bits of info about the cassette: 1) Mustapha Talbi is credited as the composer; and 2) the first track, "Mhemma Ikoun," is a song complaining about the deaths of children in Iraq. As Tim surmises, this cassette is likely late 90s, around the time the U.S. under the Clinton administration was bombing Iraq.

Here's Tim's transliteration of the track list:

1) Mhemma ikoun
2) Lemwima
3) Mama mia
4) Hala
5) Lillah
6) Instrumental
7) Yaoudarouha

Link to download in the comments.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


On Wednesday, December 20, we celebrated America's favorite 70s lite pop duo with a chronological throw-down of covers, deconstructions, deep cuts, hits, mashups, samples, strip-downs, and more, from Downey, Calif., to Manila, Osaka, and Phnom Penh.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Maalam Soudani | Essoauira (1999)

Another cassette from the Algerian bodega here in Astoria, this time a terrific gnawa recording featuring vocals, tbal, and gimbri, the latter presumably plucked by our man decked out above, Maalam Soudani.

I mentioned this cassette on my show last week and, unless misunderstood him, Tim wrote in the comments that he knew Soudani back in the day in Essoauira.

If we're lucky, perhaps Tim will share with us what he knows about Soudani's life and work; I wasn't able to find anything about him online, but the music is [squeezes fingers together and presses them to lips] ... mmmwah!

Link to download [and Tim's reply!] in comments.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Looking Back on Looking Back in 2017

On December 13, we spun tracks from some three dozen international reissues and historical compilations released this year, from selections of Arabic and Turkish electronica to a 21st century deconstruction of a watershed moment in Brazilian pop history, to an exhaustive overview of Zamrock, and more ...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Esengül ‎| Gizli Yaram

[UPDATE: New link in comments]

This remarkable woman was born Ağan Esen in 1954 in Istanbul, began her career working in casinos in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, and died in a car accident near Ataköy. 

Whether it really was an accident is up for debate, however; Adil at Uludag Video in Brooklyn, where I picked this delicious cassette up last weekend, assured me that Esengül was rubbed out by the mob. She had, less than three weeks prior, witnessed the owner and a waitress in a casino where she was gigging assassinated.

Esengül was 24 years old. Her voice sounds much, much more seasoned. You can hear a different sent of tracks by her in this week's Bodega Pop Live broadcast, here.

Link to DL in the comments.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you ...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Strange Angels

On December 6, Bodega Pop Live spun the Biafran godfather of Nigerian rock, a Turkish casino star cut down by the mob at age 24, the flattest singer in ultra-vertical Hong Kong, Burma’s psychedelic synth-pop answer to yacht rock, the Pakistani ingénue who brought Bollywood to its knees, and the Russian studio producer who secretly recorded the most psychedelic bedroom tapes of all time.

Listen to the show in the archives