Monday, April 4, 2011

RhoDeo 1114 Roots

Hello, last week it was Egypt, today we wander south into Ethiopia, that ancient region where altitude keeps tempertures within bounds and defendable hence the fleeing Jews decided to bring the ark there.... Coptic christians find their origen there too. The Templars made it there too in search of the Ark Of The Covenant, whatever they found they did build an interesting complex there on an island in a lake, industrious fellows those Templars. Meanwhile the Ark is still paraded around once a year and it's guardian has to be replaced every 10/15 years which suggests some deadly radiation if you ask me. Alas nobody is alowed to go near it besides the guardian. Mysteries ....

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Although Ethiopian culture and music have ancient roots (not to mention a tradition of Coptic liturgical music that dates back to the 4th century A.D.), the story of Ethiopian pop music doesn't begin until the 1930s, when the Emperor Haile Selassie introduced the first Western-style military brass bands. By the later half of the '40s—after the disruptions of the Italian occupation (1935–'41) and World War II—these bands had developed into full orchestras, playing American-inspired swing arrangements with Amharic lyrics and a distinctly Ethiopian modality.

But it wasn't until the late 1960s, toward the end of Selassie's long reign, that Ethiopian popular music—or "modern music," as it was called—really began to take off. The country was opening itself up to the swinging '60s, and a musical explosion fuelled by rapid urbanization and a short-lived economic prosperity was just beginning. Young singers and musicians were influenced by imported jazz, pop, R&B and soul music from the U.S. Artists like Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Esheteand and Mulatu Astatke combined these cool new imports with traditional Ethiopian sounds, while groups like the Wallias Band, the Roha Band and the Ethio Stars plugged in to newfangled Western instruments.

Unfortunately, this golden age didn't last. After Selassie was deposed in a military coup in 1974, a provisional administrative council of soldiers, known as the Derg ("committee") installed themselves as the governing junta. The Derg years were brutal and austere, and the dictatorship closed down the nightclubs and imposed censors on a thriving recording industry. The party was over.When the Derg dictatorship finally collapsed in 1991, the lid again came off Ethiopian musical creativity.

Traditional Ethiopian music instruments include the masingo, a one-stringed violin like instrument that is played with a bow; the krar, a six-stringed lyre, played with fingers or a plectrum; the washint, a flute made from bamboo; and various drums. There are three types of drums that are used in different occasions: the negarit (kettledrum), played with sticks, the kebero, played with hands, and the atamo, tapped with the fingers or palm. Other instruments include the begena, a huge, multi-stringed lyre often referred to as the Harp of David; the tsinatsil or sistrum, which is used in churches; the meleket, a long trumpet without fingerholes, and the embilta, a large, one-note flute used on ceremonial occasions.

In addition to the above traditional music instruments, Ethiopian music also includes various types of modern music instruments that are used by bands playing Ethiopian jazz, pop, and the like. Modern Ethiopian music instruments include the guitar, percussion, violin, saxophone, mandolin, clarinet, accordion, etc. The masinqo is one of the most popular traditional Ethiopian music instruments used throughout Ethiopia. It is one of the fixtures in Ethiopian culture. Although it looks simple, the masinqo can, in the hands of an expert musician, produces a wide variety of melodies. It is often played by wandering minstrels as well as professional musicians.

In the new millennium, Ethiopian pop continues to evolve and garner wider international attention, attracting Western artists as diverse as the avant-jazz ensemble Either/Orchestra to Jamaican sax virtuoso Cedric Brooks. In fact, the county still exerts a very real pull for Jamaican musicians, as exemplified by 2005's Africa Unite festival, which drew many members of Bob Marley's family (three of whom performed) .

VA - Music From Ethiopia ( 178mb)

01 Lemma Gebre Hiwot - Medina - Zelesegna (4:51)
02 Abyssinia band - Yedejih abeba negn (6:47)
03 Yohannes Afework - Ambassel (4:33)
04 Abyssinia band - Mis men gidifkini (4:22)
05 Asnakech Wortu - Tizita (4:50)
06 Abyssinia band - Endenew yisemah (5:32)
07 Areru Shegane-Teka Tema-Yohannes Afework - Tigrigna (3:19)
08 Yared Orchestra - Alegntaye (5:33)
09 Alemayehu Fanta - Salamta (3:03)
10 Abyssinia band - Yiberral libbe (4:26)
11 Sne Bahel - Haya wolalome (2:31)
12 Alemayehu Fanta - Anchihoyelene -- Tizita (7:05)
13 Abyssinia band - Esketayew (4:37)
14 Sne Bahel - Dowa dowe (3:24)
15 Abyssinia band - Tizita (7:11)

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In 1990, long before world music had acquired radical chic and bankability, Nick Page reinvented himself as Count Dubulah and formed Transglobal Underground, the first pan-cultural groove merchants to discover the heady potential of combining ethnic elements within the hypnotic rhythms and spacey ambiences of house music.

Page made half a dozen intriguing albums with TGU before leaving to form Temple Of Sound, a similar project but with a more pronounced ethnic emphasis. So there could be few musicians better qualified to initiate a more focused alliance of contemporary grooves with the distinctive strains of soul and jazz coming out of modern Ethiopia, as he has with A Town Called Addis. Thanks to the Ethiopiques series of local classics from earlier decades, Ethiopian music has been growing in popularity, and it's entirely possible that its R&B-inflected jazz stylings could make the country the next Mali, musically. Though largely suppressed during the years of the Mengistu military dictatorship, there are archives of extraordinary music waiting to be discovered.

Following a period working with local musicians and singers in Addis Ababa in 2006, Page initiated the collaborations featured on A Town Called Addis, which draw on the Azmari and other traditional forms, along with indigenous pop and jazz styles from the Sixties and Seventies, blending them with Dubulah's natural dub-reggae inclinations and trippy house textures. As the spiritual homeland of Rastafarianism, you'd expect a degree of musical correspondence between Ethiopia and Jamaica, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the opener "Azmari Dub", where proud JA-style brass riffs from the Horns Of Negus strut alongside the serpentine vocal tendrils of Sintayehu Zenebe, whom Page characterises as "the Edith Piaf of Ethiopia".

She's similarly enticing on "Shem City Steppers" and as part of the vocal battalion on the call-and-response of "Shegye Shegitu", a hypnotic handclap groove that also features the messenqo one-string fiddle of Teremage Woretaw, another vital constituent of many tracks. Along with Getachew Werkley's washint flute and Fasika Hailu's kraar harp, it helps stitch together an improvised quilt behind Tsedenia Gebremarkos Woldesilassie's vocal on "Tizita Dub", while the kraar also produces the lovely, furtive murmurings on which "Entoto Dub" relies.

What do Ethiopia and reggae have in common? In fact, the African nation of Ethiopia has had quite an influence on the development of reggae music. Reggae, native to Jamaica, is closely intertwined with the practice of Rastafarianism. Many of the most notable reggae artists, Bob Marley among them, have been Rastafarians. While the term “Rastafari” often brings to mind a dread-wearing, patois-speaking, spliff-smoking stereotype, there’s more to it than that. With A Town Called Addis, it helps to know a little bit of that history.

Rastafarianism got its name from Prince Regent Ras Tafari Makonnen of Ethiopia. In 1930, he was named king and took on the title Emperor Halie Selassie I. According to Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton’s definitive The Rough Guide to Reggae, Rastafarianism in Jamaica evolved from a synergy of outside forces, including the Voice of Ethiopia newspaper and Jamaica’s social and political struggles following independence from the UK in 1962. By the 1970s, artists like Marley and Burning Spear were taking Rastafarianism to the brink of the Western mainstream.

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Dub Colossus in A Town Called Addis is an extraordinary collaboration between contemporary Ethiopian artists and Dubulah (aka Nick Page of Temple of Sound and Trans-Global Underground). The project brings together an exceptional but little known African musical heritage, a labour of love recording in a makeshift studio in downtown Addis Ababa and then a journey back to Real World to capture for the first time ever in the UK some of Ethiopia's finest performers.

A Town Called Addis does offer plenty of prettiness. “Tazeb Kush” is driven by breezy acoustic guitars and moody synths and strings, and adds some soulful saxophone from Feleke Hailu. The minimal “Tizita Dub” features gorgeous female vocals, twirling flute, and a steady reggae beat to otherworldly effect, while the Brazilian-leaning piano ballad “Neh Yelginete” is a stunner in any language. This track, like the rest of the album’s best, has relatively few vestiges of reggae or dub. That’s fine, though. “Shegye Shegite” is a transcontinental psychedelic blues jam, with dobro, guitar, double bass, and one-stringed fiddle providing the seductive backdrop for co-ed call-and-response vocals. Chances are you haven’t heard anything else like it. “Mercato Music” closes the album out with a breathless spy-jazz workout, all nervous sax, frenzied rhythm, and twinkling Fender Rhodes. Underneath it all, the bassline still hints at dub, though tracks like this move far beyond it. The album never completely gets away from its grounding in dub, however. Zenebe makes a much more effective turn on the pure dub track “Ambassel”, with its swinging hi-hat, drifting horns, and towering piano figure combining with her powerful voice for a sinister effect.

Dub Colossus - In a Town Called Addis ( 141mb)

01. Azmair Dub 5:05
02. Entoto Dub 5:55
03. Tazeb Kush 5:52
04. Shegye Shegitu (Blue Nile Mix) 3:54
05. Yeka Sub City Rockers 5:04
06. Shem City Steppers 5:28
07. Tizita Dub 7:38
08. Black Rose 4:06
09. Ophir Dub 4:40
10. Sima Edy 4:40
11. Mercato Music 5:46

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