Sonic Dragnet #4: Matt Yanchyshyn and the soul of Africa
Benn loxo du taccu: Matt Yanchyshyn's (mostly) African music blog
He's a long way from home; currently footloose AP journalist and Canadian exile Matt Yanchyshyn is based in Paris after a lengthy stint in West Africa.
Kicking off in September 2004 with some cutting comments about Lagos, Benn loxo du taccu can claim to be one of the earliest blogs around dedicated to African music. Keeping up an impressive schedule of regular posting, Matt easily blends acute observation with an almost infinite knowledge of the West African music scene: Nigerian palmwine highlife? Go here, or what about old-school West African pop rock, or maybe some Senegalese Hip Hop?
In the time since 2004 we've been treated to an ever broader array of music from Africa, as Matt widens and deepens his explorations - reading the blog is like a modern version of a Victorian travelogue, as intrepid Musical Explorer Yanchyshyn discovers more sounds and uncovers more of the soul of Africa. However, Matt has sympathy and empathy with Africa and Africans, unlike many (most?) of the Victorians. He goes back in time to discover 60s Ethiopiques, he casts his net into the Indian Ocean, fishing out accordion music from Île Rodrigues, and he shares his love for the clear,sweet female voices of Zainaba Rasha and the stunning Amina Alaoui.
Every music blogger, and their audiences, owes a debt of gratitude to Matt, who has an open mind, open ear and open heart about the music and countries/cultures he loves. Why? Because bloggers can learn from Matt's integrity and obvious enthusiasm for his subject. And because audiences should be grateful for having their cultural horizons expanded. African artists as well may be pleased at having their music and stories shared - maybe some people would even buy music from them they never would have bought before, because of Benn loxu du taccu.
From King of Bongo research on the internet:
Relocating to Paris in May 2005 hasn't dented the Benn loxu du taccu productivity level - this Yanchyshyn guy must have a laptop welded to his chest, an iPod screwed into his ears and an audio ripper secreted somewhere, well, secret. In the last year, Benn loxu du taccu has gone from strength to strength, spreading music and culture all over the internet.
Matt knew that while based in Dakar he "was in a unique position to take advantage of a wealth of local music available in Senegal and post it for those who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to it." Much of his motivation for starting Benn loxo du taccu was to raise awareness of African music. You could say he's done a good job....
Ladies and gentlemen, a big hand for Mr Matt Yanchyshyn!
PS, what does "Benn loxu du taccu" mean? Go to his website to find out, already!