Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
You might not think that sunny summer is the best time to go burrowing deep into dusty sonic arcana. But I feel an immense compulsion to do so right now, thanks a string of superb new compilations of vintage material — paired with the release this month of Amanda Petrusich's entertaining and absorbing book Do Not Sell at Any Price, about the tribal obsessions of 78 rpm collectors and reissue producers (among them, a few of my acquaintances).
Be forewarned: These aren't pristine transfers from masters. But that doesn't matter, because if you hear only the surface noise, you're missing the treasure. As reissue producer Christopher King, who released the Greek violinist Alexis Zoumbas compilation (with cover art from none other than R. Crumb) and is profiled in Petrusich's book, notes: "One half hears the pops and scratches ... The other half hears a sonic rapture, an undulating acoustical pleasure, and a transport back to a more engaging and unvarnished past. This sound series is for the latter at the expense of the former."