Music is human. And here, King of Bongo will show you the best music available on the internet. What you will find: a vibrant source of sounds and vibes, grooves and noise, some you will never have heard before. Are you ready to go on the journey?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sonic Dragnet #4: Matt Yanchyshyn and the soul of Africa

(An occasional dip into the sources of Music enjoyed by King of Bongo)

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:

"Matt took a post-college trip to Dakar, Senegal essentially on a lark. While there, he met someone who helped him find a job with Associated Press. This job has allowed him to travel through many African countries where he fell in love with (originally) funk and soul music from Nigeria and Ghana. All this happened only 3-4 years ago. I’m amazed that he’s amassed such extraordinary expertise in this field in such a relatively short time."

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!


Blogger thursdayborn said...


cheers to matt for all the impressive and inspiring work!

thursdayborn / brian

6:49 pm  
Blogger King of Bongo said...

Thursdayborn/brian runs the fantastic blog awesome tapes from africa, which gives us exactly what it says! Look out for a King of Bongo feature Brian, and keep up the good work


9:47 am  

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