Thursday, March 15, 2012
I don't want to tweet in my dreams
BBC economics editor Paul Mason's new book about the Arab Spring Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions contains a chapter titled 'I Tweet in My Dreams': The Rise of the Networked Individual. However others who do not share Mason's unreserved enthusiasm for social media are striving to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an autumn of Western digital culture in which the emergent democracies become no more than technology enabled markets for global brands. An example of this thinking is Beyond Digital, a project which is working with young people in Morocco using digital technologies to sustain rather than replace indigenous cultures. For an example see their Sufi plug in project which "creates a space where software design, music tools, encoded spirituality, digital art, and indigenous ontologies overlap". Beyond Digital has already scored a notable success using digital technology to bring a Berber band playing "psychedelic folk" to a worldwide audience.
Imanaren, seen above, is led by Hassan Wargui who comes from the Berber village of Issafen in the Anti-Atlas mountains of southern Morocco. Wargui writes all the band's songs which are in the Berber Tachelhit dialect and are concerned with topical issues including the Arab Spring and human rights - informative video here. The band has been working with Beyond Digital since last summer and one result of their collaboration is an album previously only available on CD-R discs in Moroccan souks being given a global release on iTunes, Amazon, and other platforms.
It is a simple but effective formula that inverts the usual hierarchy: instead of adapting Berber music for the global market, digital technology is used to distribute unadapted indigenous music. And it works - David Maine wrote a review saying "Looking for “authentic” world music? You won’t get much more down-to-earth than Imanaren, a group of Berber musicians from the south of Morocco whose debut record was self-released on a limited scale within the country before being re-released on the Dutty Artz label". I picked up on that accolade via The View from Fez blog, bought the album as a bargain priced download on Amazon and so the viral loop builds without a PR agency in sight.
Personally, I don't want to tweet in my dreams, but if authentic world music is your thing I do recommend giving Imanaren a listen. More on the music of the marginalised Berbers here.
* Extended audio samples from the Imanaren album are available on the Dutty Artz record label website. However Google is showing a 'This site may be compromised' message. I visited the site several times before seeing the message without apparent problems, but malware is a current preoccupation and Morocco is an online can of worms, so please be warned. For those who want to take the risk the audio samples are here. Western digital culture is not without its problems; perhaps Imanaren will avoid them by following the example of is compatriots in Jajouka by issuing their next release on vinyl.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Image credit Beyond Digital. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk