Beating Heart was born from the idea to remix the world's largest single collection of vintage African recordings, which were made by Hugh Tracey between the 1920s and 1970s. Since 2016, Beating Heart have worked closely with The International Library of African Music (ILAM) based in Grahamstown, South Africa, to introduce these sounds to the next generation.
The field recordings have been re-imagined through worldwide collaborations from influential artists, producers and musicians such as Goldie, Rudimental, Kidnap, Auntie Flo and My Nu Leng, via a string of remixed and original releases.
The archive represents so much more than just music, spanning hundreds of different language groups across eighteen different countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Hugh Tracey recorded: Mouse-hunting songs, African separatist hymns, songs imitating the difficulty of the long-tailed paradise bird balancing in flight, songs about rain and poverty, songs celebrating football, songs for pulling canoes, songs which warn against European beer, songs which complain about venereal disease, songs about the sounds of unseen aeroplanes, fishing songs, paddling songs, songs with pauses while spittle is re-applied to moisten the reeds of a lyre, songs about a mosquito overturning a lorry, about a donkey complaining it wants wages instead of maize, about a baboon that dies after somersaulting for joy at hearing the sound of drums, commentaries on urbanisation, labour organisations and fighting campaigns in Burma, the Sneezewood swells of massed Mozambican xylophone orchestras, the oceanic rumbling rolls of packed Zulu choirs, the electrifying scorches of mouth-blown vulture quills, Ramadan town criers, hand-moistened friction drums and a praise song for a bicycle mender.