As part of The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme Larry Achiampong has been working with students from the Fresh Start course at City of Westminster College. The group undertook research and practice that deconstructed sound-based information from the participants’ histories, contemporary surroundings and that of The Showroom’s neighbourhood. This archive of sounds and recordings were then remixed to generate new audios.
This project is part of Achiampong’s existing research that sets out to investigate the audible potentials of personal and non-personal expression through sampling and sound recording devices and processes. Exploring perceptions and concepts of identity with regard to his Ghanaian and British heritage Achiampong has been working with Highlife, a music genre that predates Jazz originating from Ghana in the 1900s. Groups such as E.T. Mensah and his 12-piece band The Tempos represent the charismatic archetype of the Highlife dance band and travelled on state visits with the 1st President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah (who encouraged music as a cultural identifier) and who saw Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule in 1957.
Highlife’s peak and magnitude is highlighted between the 1950’s and the early 1980’s with musicians such as Alhaji K. Frimpong, City Boys International Band, African Brothers International Band, Ebo Taylor and even Fela Ransome Kuti. Unfortunately the military coup in 1979 dealt lethal blows to Ghana’s music industry. Former Ghanaian President, Jerry Rawlings’ curfews and import tax on musical instruments affectively drove the live sound of Highlife out of the streets.
The outcomes of the project will be launched at The Showroom as a vinyl record. For this event Achiampong will present an audio-based performance that includes a communal listening and participatory event, discussing his own history and the legacy of Highlife music, combining audio from additional vinyl records that connect with the subject matter. The audience is also invited to participate in this event by presenting samples of themselves via self-presentation and submission of their own audio, preferably on vinyl.
This is an event to accompany the project Larry Achiampong, A Sample of Me.