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About Excavated Shellac

Excavated Shellac

Excavated Shellac is a blog dedicated to 78rpm recordings of folkloric and vernacular music from around the world.

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jason on 04/23/2010 at 02:41PM

Excavated Shellac -- Strings LP

Excavated Shellac is an incredible resource for rare international 78rpm recordings. With each post, shellac excavator Jonathan Ward takes great care to ensure that the transfer is as clean as possible. His blog posts always go the extra mile in placing the music within a larger cultural and historical context (on the side, JW is a professional writer and researcher).

With the motto "good music is best when it's shared", JW has done just that for upwards of 100 songs that might otherwise go unheard, and we're honored to be hosting the Excavated Shellac archives here on the FMA.

For those who would prefer to hear this music on vinyl, we're in luck! Excavated Shellac has produced its first-ever LP, titled Strings, in collaboration with Dust-to-Digital's Parlorphone imprint. Strings collects fourteen previously unissued performances on various stringed instruments from around the world, including the fiddle, shamisen, charango, Paraguyan harp, Indian vina, Vietnamese moon guitar, Persian violin, and Lebanese oud,. These recordings -- made between 1920 and 1950 -- are all presented with the detailed liner notes we've come to expect from Excavated Shellac.

Anybody with an interest in historical music might already be familiar with the Dust-to-Digital catalog, which includes releases like the Ian Nagoski-curated Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics 1915-1955. Here's one of my favorite tracks from that compilation -- a rare performance by the Irish uilleann piper Patrick J. Touhey:

Black Mirror is available here, and you can pick up a copy of Excavated Shellac's Strings LP here. The new LP featured tracks that are not otherwise available -- not even from the Excavated Shellac blog -- but after the jump there's a fantastic mix of other stringed tunes from Jonathan Ward's archives.

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jw on 09/21/2009 at 12:44PM

Miss Inah & The Sweet Malay Entertainers

Allow me to present to you to a type of music that has a special place in my heart: the Nasib, or “Song of Fate” from Indonesia and Malaysia…part of what once was the Dutch East Indies.

‘Nasib’ in Malay means ‘fate.’ The Nasib song is an aching, slow lament; a deeply melancholic popular song type which is built around the singer’s misfortune in life. On the surface, this description would make the Nasib similar to the fado, rebetika, or blues, but that would be a mischaraterization. The origins of the Nasib derive, in fact, from Indonesian/Malaysian stambul theater music. Stambul theater (also referred to as bangsawan) developed in the late 19th century and was an urban affair, where theatrical groups would perform musical dramas, many with stories which had origins in India or the Middle East. Stambul songs were most popular from 1920-1935.

The Nasib is sung by a singer who is in fact playing – or at the very least channeling – a character or situation from these classical stories, rather than singing her own blues. Interestingly, much of the stambul music that I’ve heard from that era is quite cultured – operatic, even. However, the Nasibs, although derived from stambul, are a different thing altogether. The operatic aspect has gone out the window, and what we have here is swooning sadness – the Nasib adopted to a bar band setting!

Today’s Nasib features Miss Inah singing “Sesalken Oentoeng” (a Dutch transliteration of the Malay “Sesalkan Untung”), which more or less means “I Regret My Luck.” She is accompanied by her smooth yet lurching Malay Entertainers on harmonium (another Indian connection), saxophone, bass, and percussion.

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katya-oddio on 12/18/09 at 11:25PM
Hey Jonathon. I kept seeing your photo on this Excavated Shellac page and thinking, "I know this man." Finally saw your name on the blog posts and remembered you from Jack Fetterman's Quiet City Penthouse Parties. I know the photo, because I used it in the party website Hello again, Jonathon!
jw on 12/20/09 at 02:16AM
Hello! Glad you found me! Thanks a lot for checking in, and listening to the sounds...
katya-oddio on 05/20/10 at 04:07PM
Thank you so much for sharing your amazing records on the FMA. The Excavated Shellac blog is remarkable, so it is fun to be able to add selections from the blog to the FMA player and to mixes. Love it! Thanks, again.
ltgpanik on 06/13/10 at 01:48AM
Hey played yr music on Brussels airwaves this week FM and beyond! Link to podcast and playlist on my profile. Tot Ziens! Dr.K
John Badger on 11/09/10 at 02:32PM
Excellent, excellent, excellent.
paulrou on 03/27/11 at 08:32PM
Just signed up to FMA and found this site a real find. Thank you!!!!

I love 'Iriarte and Pesoa - "Libertad" (03:00)' - reminds me of the music in Carol Reed's 'The Third Man' in a good way!

And 'Miss Inah & The Sweet Malay Entertainers - "Sesalken Oentoeng" (03:00) .' -In my case, I sincerely thank my luck.
pyzhov on 01/14/12 at 06:16AM
I've also just signed up to FMA. This site is a rare beauty, thank you for sharing the fruits of your travels...cheers!
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