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System Failure: Syrian Cassette Archives

Toronto, 13.04.22

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Today’s System Failure explores the Syrian Cassette Archives, a project and collective that aims to preserve, share and research sounds and stories from Syria’s cassette era (1970s-2000s). The collection features an overview of musical styles from Syriaʼs many communities, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians, as well as Iraqis displaced by sanctions and wars throughout the latter part of the 20th century.Under the forced displacement and horrors of the war in the region the archive takes also the role of preserving collective cultural memory that is often overlooked. The project, besides digitizing and making the digital collection freely available online, offers a rich material from interviews with musicians and producers from the era, curated audio features , field recordings and written contributions from a variety of writers and researchers as well as close collaboration with Syrian communities globally.

In the context of decolonizing music histories and music technologies beyond the Anglo-American West, System failure welcomes today Mark Gergis and Yamen Mekdad of Syrian Cassette Archives, discussing their work with the project, cassette as a cultural practice, the local histories and networks of innovation, the electrification of folk music and the politics and ethics of archiving and preserving marginalized cultural production among other topics.

Featuring cassette & mp3 selections from the Syrian Cassette Archives collection + radio, TV & field recordings recorded between 2006-2010 by Mark Gergis in Damascus, Homs & Aleppo, Syria. Assembled and produced by Mark Gergis for Syrian Cassette Archives Originally assembled for Yamen Mekdad's Contextualize program, aired on Root Radio, July, 2020
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