Monday, 23 May 2016

Legends of Ethiogroove - Songlines Playlist

A playlist curated for Songlines Magazine in May 2016.

Ethiopia’s musical system has evolved over thousands of years and its music is some of the most distinctive in the world – the use of the characteristic qañat (five-note scales) immediately mark a piece as Ethiopian.

This unique musical culture is treasured by Ethiopians, who retain this sound even when mixing in international influences, thus creating the famed ‘Ethiogroove’. From the jazz, soul and funk of 60s and 70s Addis Ababa to hip-hop, reggae and heavy metal of the 21st century, the Ethiopian sound shines through.

This playlist aims to represent a range of Ethiogroove across three categories: the classic early recordings from the Swinging Addis era; the sounds of modern Ethiopia; and Ethiogroove as it exists outside of its motherland.

'Track title' – Artist (Album)

  1. 'Shellèla Bèsaxophone' – Getatchew Mekurya (Éthiopiques, Vol. 14: Getatchèw Mèkurya)
  2. 'Ametballe' – Bole 2 Harlem (Bole 2 Harlem, Vol. 1)
  3. 'Mètché Dershé (When Am I Going to Reach There)' – Mulatu Astatke (Éthiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale (1969-1974))
  4. 'Min Alu' – Kuku Sebsebe (Tinish Geze Sitegn)
  5. 'Eré Mela Mela' – Mahmoud Ahmed (Éthiopiques, Vol. 7: Mahmoud Ahmed (1975))
  6. 'How To Save a Life (Vector of Eternity)' – Mikael Seifu (Zelalem EP)
  7. 'Siberber' – Shewandagne Hailu (Sitotash)
  8. 'Migoten Manyawkal' – Bezunesh Bekele (Bezunesh Bekele Greatest Hits (Ethiopian Contemporary Oldies Music))
  9. 'Habdahlak' – Teddy Afro (Yasteseryal)
  10. 'Ayrak' – Jano (Ertale)
  11. 'Dewel' – Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics (Inspiration Information 3)
  12. 'If That Is What You Want (Melkam Keholnelich)' – Invisible System (Punt (Made in Ethiopia))
  13. 'Man Yawqal Yebeten' – Hirut Bekele (Éthiopiques, Vol. 3: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music (1969-1975))
  14. 'Ambassel' – Dub Colossus (A Town Called Addis)
  15. 'Sebebu' – Aster Aweke (Aster)
  16. 'Tezeta' – Seyfu Yohannes (Éthiopiques, Vol. 1: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music (1969-1975))
  17. 'Qen Sew (For My Father)' – Ethiopian Records (Qen Sew EP)
  18. 'Sema' – Tlahoun Gessesse (Éthiopiques, Vol. 3: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music (1969-1975))
  19. 'Gud Fella' – Gigi (Gigi)
  20. 'Nanu Ney' – Ester Rada (Ester Rada)
  21. 'Che Belew Shellela' – Getachew Mekurya & The Ex (Moa Anbessa)
Listen to the playlist online here.

Monday, 16 May 2016

DJ Katapila - Trotro

First published in Songlines Magazine issue 118, June 2016.

DJ Katapila
Awesome Tapes From Africa (44 mins)

When Brian Shimkovitz asked Ghanaian DJ Katapila if Awesome Tapes From Africa could rerelease his 2009 tape Trotro, the DJ was surprised – that tape had never been released, but was a hit in the pirated music shops of Kumasi. So here we are.

Katapila makes electronic dance music – various different vibes can be heard here, from acid house and early techno to more modern sounds such as azonto. More subtle influences come from Ghanaian traditional rhythms and international styles such as salsa and zouk. Altogether, the sound is actually rather minimalist, which usually works in its favour. It can sometimes go a bit far, though – some tracks are barely more than a drum-machine loop.

All sounds heard on this record come from Katalipa and his electronic wizardry. But there’s an element that made the album difficult listening for this reviewer: the grating and incessant use of high, pitch-shifted vocal samples. It’s quite interesting for a few pieces, but by the end of the album it becomes very irritating.

In the correct environment – in a club, or as part of a DJ set – any of these tracks would probably go down well, but they don’t stand up as an album for focussed listening.