There is already the excellent series “Ethiopiques Vol. I – 28 (!)”, which explores Ethiopia’s golden musical past (1968-1978), alongside three recent samplers of contemporary Ethiopian music in my list, yet this new compilation seems to indicate that the market is still far from saturated.
The outstanding feature of Ethiopian music is its use of a five-note pentatonic scale (that brings about large leaps in the melody) and its idiosyncratic love of irregular rhythms. So, don’t expect catchy pop songs from this album. It is music to either listen closely to or shake your limbs to.
This CD offers a good introduction to Ethiopia’s unique musical realm, as it features three different styles:
b) Dub fusions between Ethiopian and American/European musicians and
c) The more authentic and raucous music you listen to in Ethiopia itself.
As much as I favour the instrumentals (saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria’s Musicawe Silt, which he performs with the Dutch group The Ex, is a real gem), I know that the club scene in the West will go for bands such as Dub Colossus and Krar Collective.
And if you prefer more authentically Ethiopian music, you will not only find some eye-openers on the main CD but also in the bonus CD by Invisible System.// Frank Stenner
The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia
[RGNET 1286 CD]