Music

The Sounds of Somali Supergroup 4 Mars

A seminal anthology of 4 Mars, a 40-member Somali supergroup formed in 1977, is coming out via Ostinato Records.

In 2019, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories from East Africa. Below, Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie writes about their new release, Djibouti Archives Vol. 1: Super Somali Sounds from the Gulf of Tadjoura.

In 1977, on the eve of independence of the Republic of Djibouti, a small country on the Red Sea in East Africa, a densely packed archive was pieced together in a quiet corner of the national radio. Over the years, it became a premier but largely unknown African archive housing thousands of master reels and cassettes of the finest East African sounds.

It has endured fires and theft of invaluable recordings. Those scars linger on the delicate films of quarter-inch reels and cassette tapes. It remains one of the most expansive, well-maintained archives in Africa—but also one of the most restrictive. For decades, the archive remained off-limits to foreign entities of any kind.

In 2019, after negotiations spanning many years, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories—from East Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia, and of course Djibouti itself.

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