The Wire is spreading the news about a new crowdfunding initiative to help preserve 15 years worth of sound archives documenting the Chicago underground music scene from 1981 to 1996. Diligently compiled by Malachi Ritscher, a fixture at Chicago shows until his death by self-immolation in 2006 in protest to the war in Iraq, the archives span the breadth of the burgeoning experimental underground in the post-rock haven, from the straight-up noise of Kevin Drumm to the avant-jazz of Ken Vandermark and everything in between. Ritscher was said to have attended an average of five shows a week, a number that makes my knees and ears hurt just thinking about it, recording the shows with a level of quality that lead some of the musicians that he documented to release his recordings as official albums.
Those instances were very rare, though, and that’s why Chicago’s Creative Audio Archive is looking to the people (that’s you) to help raise $5,000 to digitally preserve and archive the most vulnerable of the Ritscher recordings. Donors will get special opportunities to listen to and own the oft-unheard recordings, while the general public will get their opportunity to hear them once the project is complete and a tour of listening stations is set up around the city.
In the general spirit of overzealous online communities contributing way more money than a project needs, let’s all open our wallets so that the Creative Audio Archive has the funds to not only digitally capture some of these recordings, but to convert all of the recordings and to create an online community where they can be listened to and shared, in the spirit of the John Peel archives. The 15 years documented through Ritscher’s recordings represent an incredibly important time and place in American music, and it’d be a shame if the recordings continue to go unheard. Head over to Kickstarter to donate now!
• Chicago’s Creative Audio Archive: http://www.creativeaudioarchive.org