Gallo Vault Sessions | Journeying through the histories of Southern African music - Bubblegum Club

Gallo Vault Sessions | Journeying through the histories of Southern African music

In many ways, it really does seem that the podcast is the art form of our time (or at least of this moment). As a technology, its potency lies in its ability to travel seamlessly across borders and cultures — a kind of triumph of distribution in a manner similar to that evoked by author Jonathan Sterne, writing about MP3 files in the early aughts. The podcast carries with it both practical and philosophical understandings of what orality contains, a mode many of us grew up engaging as a way to share stories.

In collaboration with the Pan-African creative research and cultural consultancy KONJO, Gallo record company brings us a six-part podcast, Gallo Vault Sessions with the final episode, ‘Music Through Transition’ released on August 25th. Reading as a cultural excavation project, the podcast trails Southern Africa’s music history and its impact on culture both locally and globally.

Gallo Vault Sessions

Chronicling various aspects of the music industry; from key moments in South Africa’s recording industry, the revitalisation project of the apartheid regime through the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the people behind much of the music we grew up listening to, Gallo Vault Sessions is perhaps the most comprehensive sonic documentation to date. While it draws on the archive to tell the story, it simultaneously questions how histories are ionized within those archives.

As an investigation of the historical context in which music was produced and distributed, it reveals the intimate relationship between political struggle and cultural output both on home turf and in exile – reminding us, for instance, that although pivotal moments are embedded in our collective memories foregrounding cultural struggle, other quieter but equally significant interventions continued in various forms at home. All of this, of course, is wrapped up with the darker and insidious side of the recording industry — its exploitative practices and the many loopholes that make it possible for artists to be cheated out of their intellectual property and fair pay.

Gallo Vault Sessions

Photograph by Obakeng Molepe

True to the KONJO philosophy of, “centering ‘otherwise’ narratives through the beauty of creative productions”, Gallo Vault Sessions is a lyrical and inventive exploration of South Africa’s sonic identity that engages listeners in both the critical and the sensory — from Dorothy Masuka’s musical journey, hip hop’s inauguration into the mainstream and local music’s influence on sound cultures in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Perhaps the podcasts’ biggest success is in making visible the contribution of Black musicians as progenitors of polyphonic and polyrhythmic music traditions that can be traced to the rest of the world — the Americas, Europe and Australasia. Once again reminding us of music’s wonderful mystery to agitate, soothe, provoke and mobilise across generations and geographies.

Gallo Vault Sessions

Photograph by Jurgen Schadeberg

Gallo Vault Sessions

Suggested Posts



Get our newsletter straight to your mailbox