Listening to Sprigs of Time is like finding a dusty, mildewed collection of old phonograph records at in the dingy basement floor of the library. It’s haunting, fascinating, and somehow intimate.
These old 78s, collected by Honest Jon’s, are anywhere from 50 to 100 years old. Consisting mostly of field recordings, they almost literally span the globe. Sound effects and a recited English alphabet cozy up to gamelan music from Bali. Scat singing, ukulele-strumming New Yorker Cliff Edwards rubs shoulders with an Indian raga from 1905. Most all of these 30 tracks are gems in their own ways.
Englishman Sam Mayo’s Depression-era “Things Are Worse In Russia” remains funny while serving as proof that some things never do change. Among the most listenable selections here are the traditional Cuban, Spanish, and Portuguese pieces, including one by Rubén González. Almost as amazing as the recordings themselves is the extent to which they’ve been cleaned up by the Honest Jon’s team. You won’t want to listen to Sprigs of Time every day, but if you have any interest in music, history, or music history, this is one trip worth taking.
Bonus: It’s unbeatable in the Esoteric Mix Tape sweepstakes.
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