Jan 7, 2014

RhoDeo 1401 Roots

Hello, we still find ourselves in an environment that gave rise to the worlds monotheistic religions be that on the Arabian peninsula, here we stay in the Saharan/Sahel band stretching from the West-Atlantic coast to the highlands of Ethiopia in the east of the continent, a vast area where fresh water usually tends to come at a premium , where the sun is burning down during daytime and nighttime can be cold, where the moon is the sole light source apart from the warming campfires. Is it any surprise then that singing and making music together lifted the spirits of those gathering in these desolate landscapes. And the moon became their God.

Today we wander further East into Ethiopia, that ancient region where altitude keeps temperatures within bounds and defensible hence the fleeing Jews decided to bring the ark there.... Coptic christians find their origin there too. The Templers 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 allowed to go near it besides the guardian. Mysteries. Meanwhile Ethiopian music is weird, in a good way. Imagine American jazz and/or funk from the '60s and '70s, along with African popular musics such as highlife and juju, filtered through Arabic musical scales and a melody-is-the-groove sensibility.  ......N'joy

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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) .

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If there is a single artist who personifies the rich history of Ethiopian music, it must be Mahmoud Ahmed. This collection of his greatest hits includes many of the songs that have made Mahmoud a legend on the world music scene. Mahmoud’s journey began in Addis Ababa in 1963, when he joined the Imperial Body Guard Band. In 1972, he released his first solo recording. Since then, he has come to define the Ethiopian sound.

Tizita is a smoother, less striking run-through of some old hits by the masterful Ethiopian vocalist that nonetheless shows that he is still one helluva fine singer. The up-tempo "Anchi Bale Game" immediately puts to rest any doubts about the groove factor, and "Ashikaro" also kicks it with a sprightly rhythm flavored by nice sax and synth lines and just a tad of heavy guitar. But the familiar "Yenuro Metenshin" is undercut by bothersome synthesizer, an early sign of the disc's biggest problem. The synths are tasteful and tinkling to the point of annoying on the cloying ballads "Teyikesh Tereji" and "Tew Limed Glaye," but smooth out the title track, the name for the Ethiopian slow blues form that is a Mahmoud Ahmed specialty, into something closer to MOR dinner theater than true grit. "Engedaye Nesh" works soulfully on the downtempo side, the keyboards balanced by nice sax interjections with percussion bubbling underneath. "Teresash Woy" is another solid up-tempo piece with nice sax and synth lines, while the strong bass underpinning to "Yeshi Haregitu" gets that one heading into near-'50s R&B/gospel-flavored territory.

Demand for his music has brought him to North America, Europe, and Asia, where his name is synonymous with Ethiopian music. In more recent years, Mahmoud has worked on behalf of Nelson Mandela’s struggle for South African freedom and unity. Mahmoud Ahmed truly is the voice of Ethiopia – the only African country that was never colonized.

TIZITA: The song Tizita (“Memory”) is an Ethiopian classic, a stirring ballad that embodies the nostalgic spirit of the Ethiopian soul. Although many great Ethiopian singers have performed it, no other artist has so precisely captured the song’s essence as Mahmoud Ahmed.

Mahmoud Ahmed - Tizita  (flac  399mb)

01 Anchi Bale Gamë 6:42
02 Yenuro Metenshin 6:13
03 Teyikesh Tereji 6:34
04 Ashkaro 4:39
05 Tizita 11:07
06 Tew Limed Gelayë 7:54
07 Teresash Woy 5:07
08 Engedayë Nesh 2:55
09 Yeshi Haregitu 3:31
10 Endegena 4:47

Mahmoud Ahmed - Tizita    (ogg 143mb)

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The folks at Rough Guide have this time around focused their attention in on only one major aspect of Ethiopian music: the 'swinging '60s''. Admittedly, this is by far the most important period in Ethiopian popular music, with everything since being shaped, in some part, by the stars of the day. The sound is entirely unique, much like the rest of the nation's identity. During this period of creative exploration, the sound of Addis Ababa's nightlife was cemented to some extent, making heavy use of atypical piano progressions by masters such as Alemayehu Eshete and Girma Bèyènè, and jumping, roving, off-balance but powerful horn arrangements (the brass section was just developed in the last century, after a gift from Russian tsars to the country's official bands around the turn of the century). Vocals cover the range from the same sort of roving aesthetic to the more popularized and somewhat more streamlined concepts of Mahmoud Ahmed. Somewhat more modern stars are also represented, hailing largely from the time of the 'Derg', under a Stalinist government -- Aster Aweke and Netsanet Mellesse both hail from this period, though their ultimate popularity has come afterward. Despite the lack of the more ancient sounds of Ethiopia (there is one piece played on the ancient begena here), it's an outstanding album, with an interesting focus on some of the slickest, jazziest, and yet most foreign-sounding music many Westerners are likely to hear. Give it a spin or two just for curiosity's sake, but keep listening to the hooks.

VA - The Rough Guide - The Music Of Ethiopia   (flac  357mb)

01 Bole 2 Harlem - Ametballe 4:55
02 Dub Colossus - Guragigna 5:11
03 Mahmoud Ahmed - Ohoho Gedama 4:44
04 Getatchew Mejuria & Ex, The & Guests - Musicawi Silt 4:20
05 Orchestra Ethiopia - Datchene Koba (Trio Of Emblitas) 2:24
06 Krar Collective - Ende Eyerusalem 7:20
07 Samuel Yirga - Abet Abet (Punt Mix) 5:09
08 Zerfu Demissie - Sek'Let (Crucifixion) 3:20
09 Invisible System - Ambassel 5:27
10 Alemayehu Eshete - Ney-Ney Weleba 3:44
11 Tirudel Zenebe - Gue 7:17
12 Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed - Mela Mela 4:47
13 Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou - Homesickness 3:51

VA - The Rough Guide - The Music Of Ethiopia     (ogg 156mb)

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In the Ethiopian musical world, Mulatu Astaqé (ou Astake) is atypical and unique. For 30 years he has been an inescapable presence, a virtual statue casting a long shadow over the Ethiopian scene.The singularity of this musician- arranger-composer-innovator-melder of influences-organiser resides in his efforts in favour of instrumental music in a country where musical culture and tradition are strangers to it. This is powerful, mystical, ancient, ethereal, psychedelic stuff, wrapped in the raw familiar shapes of jazz, blues, funk, and pop. The horn melodies are dark and hypnotic, punctuated by guitar tones ranging from raw and distorted to reverb wah-wah, joined by electric piano, flute, and various percussion.

The 14 instrumentals here were originally issued on two LPs in 1972 and 1974 in Ethiopia, and represent a curious blend of soul-jazz and R&B with just a smattering of Ethiopian roots breaking up the stabbing horn lines, wah-wah guitars, and simmering electric piano. Curious, because at the time jazz was not very popular in Ethiopia, but that is no reflection on the quality of these primitively recorded sides of idiosyncratic Afro-funk. The grooves are long and laconic, the sound reminiscent of Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way" paired with Cannonball Adderly and Roy Ayers. But, as with all things Ethiopian, the music retains its own unique and unmistakable identity, one somewhere between a late-night jazz hole-in-the-wall group and a supper club belly-dancing combo. There are some very inventive arrangements and vigorous soloing, rendering a highly articulate and listenable music that was, at the time, doomed to go nowhere.

Mulatu Astatke - Éthiopiques 4 (Ethio Jazz-Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974) (flac 301mb)

01 Yèkèrmo Sèw 4:12
02 Mètché Dershé 3:56
03 Kasalèfkut Hulu 2:43
04 Tezeta 6:14
05 Yègellé Tezeta 3:17
06 Munayé 4:58
07 Gubèlyé 4:36
08 Asmarina 4:55
09 Yèkatit 3:55
10 Nètsanèt 5:33
11 Tezetayé Antchi Lidj 6:01
12 Sabyé 5:24
13 Ené Alantchi Alnorem 4:59
14 Dèwèl 4:14

Mulatu Astatke - Éthiopiques 4 (Ethio Jazz-Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974)  (ogg 130mb)

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Anonymous said...

hi, for your information, there seem to be two CD's with this title. The song list you give is for the 2012 issue, while the flac music appears to be from the 2004 version, and the latter songs and credits come up when the CD is imported. In any case, thanks for a fine and varied blog.

Anonymous said...

great blog, man, thank you very much!!

and if there's a second chance for mulatu astatke and the rough guide ...

owe you some


Rho said...

Hello Fred glad you enjoy this blog Ive just re-upped both your requests.