Voices of local activism from the past are carried over to the present in a new music project broadcast live from the Manchester Central Library.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is a UK project by the British Library that aims to preserve a collection of over 6.5 million recordings from across the UK, ranging from music to radio to the spoken word.

Now in its fourth year, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Manchester Central Library has played an important role in bringing the project to life.

Archives + and the Central Library are now giving local artists Pops Roberts and Philip Howley a free hand over the region’s collection in a new assignment called Demo Tapes.

Demo Tapes brings together the voices and sounds of the Northwest that have been recorded in the archives, creating new and original works that revolve around the theme of protest. The first track, “Give Yourself”, is already online and presents listeners with a collage of voices from local activists from the past, supported by a heady track composed by Pops and Philip.

The two artists are now continuing their work with a performance of demo tapes, which will be broadcast live from the central library tomorrow, Tuesday, July 13th.

Special guest Ríoghnach Connolly will also perform new works in response to the sound archives.

Reflecting on the process, Phil says he “found listening to the archive incredibly fascinating. It’s so funny how everything seems to change but nothing really does. Hearing the voices of those who think differently, striving to be understood or heard just to express their unhappiness, was really emotional for me. “

Pops also added, “I loved the power of the main part and wanted to counter it with a more loving memory. The core of the protest, for me, is that power and compassion really go hand in hand – creating friendlier change for people now and in the future. There is so much to choose from in the archives, so the work continues! “

As part of demo tapes, Pops and Phil lead music workshops for young people based on the archive of Brighter Sound (Manchester) – alongside similar projects in Morecambe and Liverpool.

The workshops continued the theme of music in response to voices of activism, and the result will be live-streamed and archived as well.

You can follow the gig on July 13th 6-8pm via Reform Radio live stream https://www.mixcloud.com/live/reformradio/

You can also explore the archives yourself and re-listen to the live stream at North West Sound Heritage https://northwestsoundheritage.org/demo-tapes. There you can hear stories about political engagement, queer creative reactions, anti-nuclear protests, climate change, industrial protests and mass trespassing.

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