Dub Colossus: Addis Through the Looking Glass (Real World)

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Dub Colossus: Yigermel
Dub Colossus: Addis Through the Looking Glass (Real World)

With recent interest in the music of Ethiopia (the Ethiopiques compilations, albums by Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics), the ground has been well prepared for this by Nick Page (aka Dubulah who was behind London's innovative TransGlobal Underground and Temple of Sound).

Dubulah has already been in the region for A Town Called Addis (and off on a tangent with his Syriana project on Road to Damascus) and here brings together a few dozen Ethiopian and UK artists including Mykaell Riley (of Steel Pulse), drummer Nick Van Gelder (Jamiroquai), Dr Das who is bassist in Asian Dub Foundation and other old familiars. The Ethiopians were recorded in situ and the tapes taken back to the UK for the aditional work.

This often hypnotic album -- as much jazz as it is dub conscious -- weaves the voices and instruments of Ethiopian artists through material which sometimes suggests Afro-Cuban music and of course reggae. But it is positively entrancing when the singers are to the fore with their quivering, emotional sound which can be powerful or sweet'n'soft.

The first standout is Wey Fikir with a female vocalist, sinuous flute and saxophones and a gentle reggae beat,and later Tringo Dub has strident piano and what sounds like thumb piano and traditional fiddle while the vocalists do a kind of call and response.

The reggae standards Satta Massagana and Uptown Top Rankin (the latter sung by the same vocalist on Wey Fikir) appear but to little great effect in this rather more exotic context where the most interesting of these 14 tracks are where the Ethiopian artists are more in the foreground.

By being not quite world music, jazz, dub or reggae, this one stretches right across them all and deserves your serious attention and enjoyment.

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