Mirror to the Soul: Music, Culture and Identity in the Caribbean, 1920-72


In a review of notable music releases of 2013 for The Conversation, Charles Fairchild discusses Mirror to the Soul as one of those albums that made the grade. You can access the complete report and two performance videos through the link below.

Here is what he had to say:

Britain’s Soul Jazz Records is a special place, producing some of the better compilations and reissues on musical subjects ranging from New York No Wave and Delta Swamp Rock to German electronica and recent dubstep.

Mirror to the Soul: Music, Culture and Identity in the Caribbean, 1920-72 is a compilation of music from across the Caribbean dating from the 1950s to the present is one of their more impressive achievements.

The set includes two CDs of music as well as a full-length documentary about British Pathé, a newsreel company active in the British Caribbean from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The documentary is particularly interesting as it is constructed entirely from Pathé’s newsreel footage, revealing the extent to which Pathé was a colonial enterprise. The accompanying booklet gives important context to Pathé’s work and provides insightful criticism about the company’s inability to represent the full breadth of life in the colonial Caribbean, focusing, for example, on “happy labourers” rather than colonial subjects and exploited workers.

The CDs focus on two broad periods, the mid-50s to the early 70s and the late 90s to the present. The songs from the first disc are entirely from the commercial end of the scale providing a broad, loose survey of styles and traditions.

The second disc focuses on what the compilers call Afro-Caribbean Roots Music, relying on more than a hint of exoticism to sell us traditional music from across the region.

However, just past the surface you will find a collection of contemporary recordings of many of the more long-standing musical traditions of the African musical diaspora. These two discs provide substantial evidence of the extraordinary musical history of this complex, diverse region.

For the original report go to http://theconversation.com/from-country-to-the-caribbean-notable-music-releases-of-2013-21539

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