Whilst browsing through Nobody for this month’s Magnified feature, we happened upon The Syrian Cassette Archive, a project undertaken by Mark Gergis. He started digging out these tapes in stores in San Francisco and Detroit.
“Raw and prismatic, the tapes not only entranced Mark but also brought him closer to his own heritage as an Iraqi-American. He soon became fixated on the sounds and culture of the region. Eventually, he boarded a plane to Syria and fell in love – with the country, yes, but also the abundance of tapes he found at music shops, corner kiosks, even bus stops.”
“There was an ephemeral nature to the tapes,” says Mark. “These were pulp recordings, here to serve to a purpose in a certain point in time. They didn’t have staying power.”
As Mark watched Syria ‘descend into madness’, he realised his collection of 500 cassettes could in their own small way help preserve and share the sounds of that era.