Luminary Recordings: Akhtseh Rayondin Maniyar

We’re thrilled to announce our latest album, a result of a collaboration between Ored Recordings and Luminary, an educational center in the village of Khryug, in the Ahtynsky district of Dagestan.

Luminary works with local children, offering them various classes in design, programming, music, and other fascinating topics. Our collaboration with them involved a three-day expedition of young Lezgins through their native Ahtynsky district, recording the songs of bards, local ensembles, and cultural workers.

In addition to the audio release, we’ve also published a printed zine, in which the children describe their experience, and we share our thoughts on the symbolism of such trips.

Ored Recordings is an ethnographic label, whose team travels mainly in the Caucasus, studying and recording local music. While there are many similar projects around the world, they are often led by white Europeans on an “exotic safari” in foreign lands. However, in our case, things are different. Ored Recordings is led by Circassians, who immerse themselves in their own tradition and the culture of their neighbors. In our eyes, there is less exoticism and orientalism, which can be found in the work of the French in Tibet or Americans in Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, we know relatively little about the music and culture of neighboring republics. Even in Dagestan, we may be neighbors, but we are still outsiders. We try to bridge the gap by taking local guides and carefully preparing for trips to other republics. However, the most honest thing we can do is to send the locals on the expedition themselves, without us.

When the Luminary center in Khryug invited us to do something together with their kids, it became evident that they should go on an expedition to their native villages and share their music and personal discoveries with everyone.

Ored Recordings’ role was to provide young ethnographers with tools, without imposing our vision. We didn’t teach young Lezgins what music was worthy of recording and what should be forgotten. Nor did we decide for them what would become a hit or what would be boring.

The result is an album of diverse music, the faces of living bearers of tradition, an engaging story of an ethnographic adventure, and a beautiful zine.

Importantly, the project is not interesting merely because it was done by children. The release and zine by the Luminary kids are not cute; they are serious works that adults could have done worse. And to us, this carries great symbolic value: traditional music does not belong to us — the elders, academics, and art curators. It’s for everyone, especially the new generations.

We hope you enjoy this album and take a moment to appreciate the work of these talented young musicians and ethnographers.

Source: Ored Recordings (Bandcamp)

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