Sunday, July 31, 2011

In review--Ethiopian Extraordinaire

Addis Acoustic Project
Tewesta (Remembrance)
World Village

Besides my familiarity with an acoustic homage to Ethiopia performed by Gigi and a Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia, I find myself at a loss in describing Ethiopian music.  The music shares some commonalities with Egyptian music, but possesses an exoticism of its own.  I only wish that I had more time to spend on writing a review of Addis Acoustic Project’s Tewesta because the disc provides lively Ethiopian fare flavored with accordion, acoustic guitar, double bass, percussion, and clarinet for starters.  The music here swirls in this space and often swivels its way through exotic scales. It also provides a nostalgic feel to a bygone era.

The second track, Ambassel (Ethiopian folk song), fuses Latin American music with East African jazz and Dawit Ferew’s clarinet alternates between Turkish traditional and klezmer-esque modes, though I’m certain that it is neither.  The ensemble of musicians lead by Girum Mezmur (acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars, vocals, and accordion), share their passion for musical diversity, but also for Ethiopian classics from the 1950s and 1960s.  Mezmur’s arrangements tantalize my ears and tease my senses while sending my mind wandering in exotic lands.

The song title Alemoush Mambo piqued my curiosity so I took a listen of this lively track. The mambo element figures into the song, but not prominently.  A careful listen reveals Latin rhythms hidden underneath East African scales, modes, and rhythms.  While I can’t imagine anyone dancing the mambo to this song, the frenzied beats would quicken a heartbeat of a listener.   Love is Eternal portrays Sudanese modes and starts out with Arabic-type rhythms played on a darbuka.  In the end with this album, it’s hard to separate all the flavors in this musical stew.  I recommend slipping on your dancing shoes when you listen to this one—world music at its finest.