Friday, March 26, 2010

Ethiopiques: the funkier side of Ethiopia

For those who have kept up with the Buda Musique series, the otherworldly novelty of the earliest volumes released in the late 1990's has perhaps worn off. But they have also been rewarded with everything from solo pianists, King David's Harpists, historic recordings of orchestras as well as classic, 1970's-era Ethiopian soul as interpreted by Cambridge, Massachusetts' Either/Orchestra live in Addis Ababa... The latest in the series, Ethiopiques 24, is devoted to the funkier side of 1970's Ethiopia. Stars of earlier volumes, such as Seylou Yohannes and Ayalew Mesfin, appear here and the music, as always, is spectacular. Wubshet Fisseha and the Exception Five Band's lone track, "Sew Endayhon Yelellem," mixes a horn line that could come from nowhere but the landlocked East African nation with scratchy guitars, one of which takes a brutally raw solo midway through. Tamrat Molla and the Venus Band's "Ber anbar Sebelewo" steals quietly in before erupting in celebratory handclaps so typical of Ethiopian and Tigray music. Behind it all are the usual assortment of cheap organs, jubilant horn charts and choked guitar and bass licks...

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