Remember those blogs from the late ’00s and early ’10s like Mutant Sounds and Holy Warbles? They were the fucking best. They shared music that you either never knew existed or knew about but thought “there’s no way I’ll ever get to listen to that.” I’m pretty sure a decent chunk of my digital music collection came from those sites. It’s a shame the zeitgeist has passed. Not only have those sites been taken down but the once ubiquitous MediaFire and RapidShare download links have long since expired.
Sometime last week, I stumbled across Bolingo (aka Anthems for the Nation of Luobaniya). It’s mostly focused on traditional Indian with a hefty dose of African, Middle Eastern, and various Asian jams. The site is still there and the dude has made sure all the download links still work. But even better is that most posts have high quality scans and a ton of information about the artists, labels, release variants, and all that good stuff. It’s a fucking treasure. But this time, I wasn’t about to let all of this go the way of Cosmic Hearse.
I downloaded every record (which includes scans of the jacket, liner notes, etc) and I downloaded a mirror of the entire site. 200+ records (mostly 320k mp3s), over 30 GB, and all of it was either untagged or horribly tagged. And while I’m incredibly thankful this music was made available, I couldn’t re-share it in that kind of condition.
I spent a considerable amount of time making sure everything had a track number, track title, artist, album title, date (if available), and embedded cover art. That was time-consuming enough on its own but I’m kind of a stickler for making sure that 1, diacritics are transcribed correctly and 2, artist information is as accurate as possible. The problem with the diacritics was that some were kind of obscure and I had some trouble just identifying them (like a handwritten “ɛ” or “ɔ”) which made it difficult finding them on Graphemica.
The artist info wasn’t super challenging, it’s just that the information I needed wasn’t something I could just copy from Discogs, so I had to *ZOOM* *ENHANCE* some of those liner notes to identify Kiko, Alberto Hotou, & Souzy as the people who performed “Hanga Rahi A Akou.” It’s possible that some are labeled as “Unknown Artist” where the performer is, in fact, mentioned in the liner notes, but the only reason that would happen is if the liner notes weren’t in English. Anyway, it’s cool if you don’t really care about my attention to detail but I kind of hope you do.
Also, here’s a zip of the site mirror… just in case.
I can’t believe I didn’t include a single line about exactly what music is in this collection (and also that so many of you downloaded it regardless!). Let me remedy that. Most of the records that are just a single artist (instead of a compilation or whatever), are Indian. A few big names like Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Amir Khan, M.S. Subbulakshmi, and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan as well as a bunch of musicians I’ve never heard of like Pandit Narayanrao Vyas, Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee, and Rasiklal Andharia.
Then there’s a ton of field recordings and anthologies like the series of Unesco/Musicaphon releases (A Musical Anthology Of The Orient, An Anthology Of African Music, An Anthology Of South-East Asian Music, Musical Sources, Musical Atlas, Anthologie De La Musique Des Peuples, Music Of Oceania, Première Anthologie De La Musique Malienne, etc). There’s also a bunch from The Living Tradition series on Argo recorded by Deben Bhattacharya and The Music Of Africa series on Kaleidophone recorded by Hugh Tracey.