Decades before the term "world music" became common parlance, Charles Duvelle was traveling the globe recording the sounds and sights of indigenous people around the world. The material that Duvelle collected, and his design sensibilities, avant-garde for the time, were communicated to the public through Disques Ocora, the record label founded in 1958 by musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. Duvelle was an intrepid musicologist and explorer, living for long periods as a researcher in West Africa, Central Africa, Indian Ocean, Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. Tragically, many of the incredible cultures that Duvelle introduced to the world are on the verge of extinction.
To enable us see the world through Duvelle's eyes, Sublime Frequencies' Hisham Mayet in collaboration with Duvelle have released The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle – Disques OCORA And Collection PROPHET, a lavish tome contains field photographs from 1959-1978, an interview, complete discography including Duvelle's post-Ocora label Collection Prophet, a report he prepared for Unesco in 1978, and two CDs of music. Of course my favorite track on the compilation is "Cengunmé," a recording of Mahi musicians in Benin that was included on the Voyager golden records launched into space forty years ago this month. (The track has always been misidentified in title and location in writings about the Voyager record but Duvelle provided me with the accurate information for inclusion in the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition that I co-produced.)
The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle – Disques OCORA And Collection PROPHET is not only a magnificent monograph but also an important one. We are honored to share the following images and audio sampler from this provocative and inspiring book.