Thursday, March 26, 2015

Abud Mu'tazz - Ethiopian Soul & Jazz Selecta! [ethiopia]

Abud Mu'tazz, São Paulo

Abud (SP/BR) Dj, crate digger and producer highly influenced by Jazz, 70's Funk, Latin Soul and Afro Brazilian music.

      The Middle Eastern music has always been present in my life. My mother, born in Aleppo, Syria, put K7 tapes of Arabic music when I was little. I had my first contact with the Ethiopian music some 10 years ago, when a friend put a CD written with no name and no cover to listen. At that moment, I was totally mesmerized by this music, with a Semitic dialectlike the songs that my mother listened. It was kind of James Brown singing in a different Arab progress with mysterious scales and very powerful metais. 

       A arrangements from that day, I began to research and figure out where it is coming this kind of music, until one day I heard a vinyl collection made by a French label and there were the answers to my questions. Had finally found the source of that mysterious music. Ethiopia came directly! 

       After my discovery, names like Alemayehu Eshete, Mulatu Astatke and became part of my set in jazz dances, at the time of the Berlin Club, in Barra Funda, where he was residing. Even without understanding what is said in the song, the way these artists sing is very expressive. It is essential as repertoire and cultural background to the development of my personal production. This mix down to my song search of Ethiopia, a very specific material selected especially on vinyl for you to travel without leaving your seat.

Abud Mu'tazz, São Paulo

Abud Mu'tazz - Ethiopian Soul & Jazz Selecta! (38:07)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bill Laswell / Sacred System - [2002] - Book of Exit - Chamber 4 [usa+eth]

      It's difficult to think of a musician more prolific than Bill Laswell. Every year, this guy's name comes on the spine of three to seven albums, not to mention being buried in the credits of probably a dozen more. His brilliance isn't really up for debate-- the sheer consistency of his releases guarantees that-- but after a while, consistency can get a bit numbing. Laswell is excellent at what he does, but truly definitive statements, like the amazing Invisible Design, are rare in his catalogue; his best work is spread out over too many discs to count, instead of being concentrated in one place.

Bill Laswell / Sacred System - Ethiopia

      This is where Laswell's project, the preposterously named Sacred System: Book of Exit; Dub Chamber 4, comes in. Over the years, Laswell has released a veritable pantsload of dub-themed releases, and this new one follows in the much the same vein: deep bass, slow tempos, cavernous echo, and a nebulous sense of composition. As dub releases goes, it's fairly minimal; while there aren't piles of freaky samples-- in fact, there's really no clutter at all to speak of-- it's nothing Laswell hasn't explored many times before.

       The album's six tracks are split evenly between Laswell-composed tests of a dub autopilot machine he's apparently been working on, and three songs he wrote with Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu "GiGi" Shibabaw. While Laswell's chilled-out dub instrumentals aren't bad by any means, they don't hold a candle to the vocal tracks; I'm not sure what language GiGi is singing in when she leaves English behind (Ethiopia has six major languages-- the principle being Amharic-- and several more minor ones), but in the context of the music, it's beside the point, as her mellifluous delivery is ultimately what cuts through the dubby haze.

        Beyond GiGi herself, there's a certain drive to the three tracks she sings on that seems missing from the others. Percussionists Karsh Kale and Aiyb Dieng are consummate craftsmen, but on the dub tracks they're limited to a small window, making it difficult for them to break things up with the virtuosity they're known for. They're given a freer hand on the vocal tunes, though, which invariably results in a much more palpable sense of urgency and fire.

      Ultimately, it's most interesting to think of what could come of a full-scale collaboration between GiGi and Laswell: as it stands, half of this album is electrifying, the other merely passable. Under usual circumstances I might recommend this, but if you don't already own Laswell's essential releases like Psychonavigation, Invisible Design, or the various and excellent records by his other projects Praxis, Tabla Beat Science, Material, and Massacre, Sacred System can easily wait. If you're reasonably well versed in Bill's oeuvre, proceed as you wish, but know what to expect: Laswell dub by-the-numbers.

  1/  Ethiopia - (Laswell,Shibabaw) (6:14)
  2/  Lower Gound - (Laswell) 7.34
  3/  Shashamani - (Laswell)  7.29
  4/  Bati - (Laswell,Shibabaw) 7.47
  5/  Land of Look Behind - (Laswell) 6.45
  6/  Jerusalem - (Laswell,Shibabaw) 12.29

Bill Laswell - bass, guitar, keyboards 
Ejigayehu "GiGi" Shibabaw - vocals 
Karsh Kale - drums, tabla
Aiyb Dieng - percussion



       One of the most prolific men in music, Bill Laswell doesn't release albums under his own name as often as he once did, which makes Book of Exit, the fourth in his "Dub Chamber" series, especially worthy of attention. While the previous "Dub Chamber" releases leaned more toward hard Jamaican-style dub music, with instruments dropping in and out and plenty of reverb and delay, this is altogether a different beat, in large part due to the vocals of Ethiopian singer Gigi. And what Laswell, Gigi, drummer/tabla player Karsh Kale, and percussionist Aiyb Dieng end up with is really ambient dub -- something lighter and more flowing because it adapts itself to the vocals. And Gigi is in excellent form, possibly better than on her own debut, whether on "Ethiopia" or the memorable, beautiful "Jerusalem," which mixes a slight R&B inflection with dub for something outstanding, beautiful, and ethereal. Laswell's light hand at the controls (even the disc's heaviest track, "The Lower Ground," is hardly the stuff of Lee "Scratch" Perry and King Tubby) works subtly -- shifts happen gradually, making for a sense of movement and focus about the pieces. And his work on guitar, bass, and keyboards is as accomplished as his colleagues. Slightly unearthly but always lovely, this dub chamber is a place worth exploring.
Chris Nickson (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)


       Mr. Bill Laswell, one of the world’s busiest producer/performers is at it again. This fellow’s got his fingers in so many diverse musical pies of his own and others (who’s baking he supervises) it’s dizzying – and therein lies the rub, bub. With all the stuff he puts out (under his own name or a nom de musique) - not even counting the myriad sessions he produces - Laswell may as well have his own Disc of the Month Club, the downside being all the output can’t all be good. But he’s thrown us a curve w/ his latest, and it’s a humdinger.

       The latest in his Sacred System: Dub Chamber series, Book of Exit, is something of a radical departure from the others. They all feature dense, dark, jazz-, reggae- and Middle Eastern-inflected dub – similar approach here, but this ‘un lets a bit of light in. For one thing, it’s got a vocalist: the excellent Ethiopian singer “Gigi” Shibabaw, who has an entrancingly high, translucent, ethereal voice (a wee bit like Flora Purim), with strong Middle Eastern/North African overtones (though with a heart-rending touch of modal Irish-ness on the closer “Jerusalem”), though she does not overdo the melisma common to most Arabic singers. This stuff is as heavily rhythmic as before (re: the other fine discs on R.O.I.R.) and Laswell still uses the holy language of Dub to communicate, but it’s not as ominous and bass-heavy, more spacious and a little brighter. The instrumental sounds seem to gently, gracefully soar over (and occasionally down) yawning chasms. Laswell plays a few guitar lines encompassing shades of both West African guitar music and the late Jerry Garcia. You can actually listen to this one in the daylight, while the other volumes are definitely for night or darken rooms. (That’s not a put-down, btw.) This particular Book I’ve been able to sit through twice in one sitting, and there’s not many discs out there that have that power. Highly Recommended, this one is.

Mark Keresman (courtesy of the website)


       Bill Laswell is one of those "everywhere-at-once" musicians—producing, engineering and playing bass on countless albums for other artists, as well as maintaining an absurdly prolific release schedule of his own music. This album is mysteriously billed as 'Dub Chamber 4,' and since I haven't heard the first three Dub Chambers, I'm questoning my qualifications to write this review. However, this album does bear quite a resemblance Laswell's 'RadioAxiom: A Dub Transmission' album, a collaboration with Jah Wobble released early last year. Like that album, 'Book of Exit' is a highly polished series of superlative ethnic music workouts, utilizing heavily percussive dub as a backbone. This strategy has worked for Laswell many times before, and it works here again. Three of the six tracks contain beautiful, serpentine vocals by Ethiopian singer GiGi, who also sang on 'RadioAxiom'. GiGi's seductively epic vocal style works wonderfully in this context, but as Laswell's music always floats dangerously close to New Age/Worldbeat territory, it's difficult for me to completely surrender to its beauty. There is something a little enraging about white westerners who shamelessly co-opt the music of other cultures and blend them into a super hi-fi pastiche that loses its meaning and context, and serves as stereo test fodder for thousands of yuppie bachelor pads. The only things that save Laswell's music from being relegated to this hall of shame are his incredible grasp of composition, subtlety, and his ear for rich, captivating production. It is this amazing ear that transforms the opening track "Ethiopia"—a combination of cleanly plucked acoustic guitar, tabla, multitracked voice and echo chamber—from an easy cliché into an alarmingly beautiful experience. Most of the album follows this same basic formula, until things get a little bone-shaking and mind-bending towards the end, with the one-two punch of "Shashamani" and "Land of Look Behind." The album concludes with the long-form heroic pop of "Jerusalem," an achingly lovely paean to an ancient holy land, rife with war and division. GiGi sings mostly in English this time, and her sad and timely refrain of "Jerusalem, Jerusalem/You are so undone/Oh, what have you done...?" leave no doubt of this album's worthiness.

courtesy of the Brainwashed website

Melkamu Tebeje - Greatest Hits [2001] [ethiopia]

       When talking about the pioneers of Ethiopian music, there are artists who never fail to get mentioned. One such artist is Melkamu Tebeje

Melkamu Tebeje - Besak Bechaweta

          Born in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia in 1946, Tebeje has had an incredible music career with over 30 years of music to his name. Known for such songs as Awassa Langano, Baburu and Dehna Hugni, Tebeje and his brand of culturally influenced soul music has influenced many Ethiopan and international artists.

01 - Melakamu Tebeje - Techewach Nech Chebcheb (6:00)
02 - Melakamu Tebeje - Dehna Hugni (7:20)
03 - Melakamu Tebeje - Libe Berha New (3:37)
04 - Melakamu Tebeje - Be-Inba Teleyayen (4:08)
05 - Melakamu Tebeje - Ande Amet Wededkuat (3:22)
06 - Melakamu Tebeje - Negn Wey Lanchi Kifu (5:37)
07 - Melakamu Tebeje - Tabot Yimeslal (7:41)
08 - Melakamu Tebeje - Anchi Temari (3:12)
09 - Melakamu Tebeje - Lela Indaygebabet (3:44)
10 - Melakamu Tebeje - Sintun Asiefnew (4:01)
11 - Melakamu Tebeje - Initarek (3:52)
12 - Melakamu Tebeje - Alguaguam (4:22)
13 - Melakamu Tebeje - Akuri Bahl Alegn (2:51)

Friday, March 20, 2015

AIYE #60 : Mikael Seifu - Africa In Your Earbuds [ethiopia]

       Mikael Seifu is an Ethiopian electronic music producer & performer. Seifu fuses both the secular Ethiopian music of nomadic folk musicians, known as Azmaris, and the sonics of Tobia with garage & his own dream brew, which he calls “Ethiopian electronic.”

     Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Seifu attended the French school Lycee Guebre-Mariam as a child, and went on to study music production & the music industry at Ramapo College of New Jersey, a small school about 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. Here, Seifu studied under avant-garde composer, trumpeter and inventor of the “Mutantrumpet,” Ben Neill. “He opened me up to another way of thinking about music,” says Seifu.

Mikael Seifu - Yarada Lij

      After his time at Ramapo, Seifu traveled back to Addis Ababa where he currently runs his recording studio, a central hub for the perceptive & open-minded local musicians of Addis Ababa, and continues to cultivate & curate the local electronic & Ethiopian experimental music scene.

His debut EP, Yarada Lij, draws from a long list of musical influences including Ethiopian & African Folk, the Addis Acoustic Project, Ben Neill, Burial, Zion Rebels, Air, Röyksopp, reggae and R.F.

“My music is about vibrations…it does something to me and I want to immediately share that with people. It’s not Eastern, Western, Martian… it’s about that impact. If that impact is not shared, it doesn’t matter.” - Mikael Seifu

       Ethiopian beatsmith Mikael Seifu made his impressive debut this year with the 4-track Yarada Lij EP and loose single “Tuff Ruff” — a striking hybrid of house & UK garage production with secular azmari folk and sacred music traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Addis Ababa-based producer, who cites labelmate Endeguena Mulu, Burial, traditional Ethiopian folk, and Scott Storch as his influences, is the torch-bearing artist on the newly formed Washington, D.C. imprint 1432 R.What do you think?

      For his Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape, Mikael Seifu delivers an astounding, hazy journey through reinterpreted Ethiopian folk sounds. The producer mentions, “The last two songs are the only unaltered from the mix. I basically went for it and picked artists of Ethiopia or who are Ethiopian. That being said I used bits and pieces of their works and composed on top of that for the mix. One can say the majority of the mix is technically original stuff with it’s major influence and theme being Ethiopian folk."

Mikael Seifu - AIYE #60: Mikael Seifu (19:47)

Samples Used For Mix/Tracklist:

Ethiopian Folk

Tommy T - Oromo Dub(Cushitic Dub)
Gash Abera Molla - Enkutatash & other
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou - The Last Tears of a Deceased
Addis Acoustic Project - Soundcheck at Jazzamba Club
Hailu Mergia - Ambassel
Seifu Yohannes - Yekermo Sew
Zion Rebels ft. Lion Heart Soldiers, Tiger & Black Haze -  Dess Yebelesh
Lema Guebre-Hiwot - Medina Zelessegna

Alexo & Friends -Hulètshih [2013] [ethiopia]

More dub music from Ethiopia.

 Alexo & Friends - 01 - Hulètshih 1 (04:52)  
 Alexo & Friends - 02 - Hulètshih 2 (06:56)  
 Alexo & Friends - 03 - Hulètshih 3 (03:59)  
 Alexo & Friends - 04 - Hulètshih 4 (03:11)  
 Alexo & Friends - 05 - Hulètshih 5 (03:35)  
 Alexo & Friends - 06 - Hulètshih 6 (05:56)   
 Alexo & Friends - 07 - Hulètshih 7 (04:36)

Hulètshih 5 was previously released on "Molécules 5" vol.IV (Sous le manteau, 2009) titled "Wolayta" & on Ethiosonic's "Noise & Chill Out - Ethiopian Groove Worldwide" titled "Tètchawètu!" (Buda Musique, 2011) 

Composed & arranged by Leyekun Zewdu & Alexo 

Words by Helina Feqadu 

Vocals by Sertse Fresebhat 
Washint by Yonas Asrat 
Messenqo & krar by Leyekun Zewdu 
Alexo: bass, kebero, dubmaster 

Recorded in Alliance Ethio-Française of Addis Abeba by Covalesky & Alexo in 2007 
Sound artwork by Alexo & Covalesky