The West African Instrumental Quintet: 1929


The West African Instrumental Quintet 1929 (Heritage Records)

by DJ Joe Sixpack (Amazon)
Banjo-led tunes with instrumentation that is disarmingly similar to American old-timey music, though very different stylistically. Not much is known about these musicians — not even which West African tribe they may have came from. The recordings were made in England, and released in 1929-1930 as 78s on the Zonophone label. Although it all begins to sound the same after a while, there are some interesting aural effects on tracks #18-20, where the banjo and guitars are completely out of tune with each other, yet the song goes on, creating its own, off-kilter musical logic. The effect is disconcerting — even a bit creepy, in a music-box kind of way.


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