Filmed and recorded at Fendika in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 2010
Buy and listen here.
Getting back to Ethiopia for a minute. Here are a few videos gleaned from youtube. “What the kids are doing,” as Diplo would say, these days in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia Telecommunications has a monopoly on the cellular, fixed phone and internet market. The relatively common cybercafes a stocked with groups of computers all connected to a dial up connection. Excruciatingly slow! The one solution I found was to log in at the Sheraton Hotel for $20/hr. They have a 128 kbps connection. However, it is impossible to login to myspace from Ethiopia, which seems to account for the lack of Ethiopian (or for that matter Eritrean) presence on myspace. Thanks to the Ethiopian diaspora, we have some of this stuff available online.
The first one is my favorite. Tewodros (aka Tedy) and Abraham – gurageton. I heard about this track and searched and searched asking all the street vendors I saw if they had anything from Tedy. Everybody knew him, but nobody had any CDs. The only thing I found was a VCD compilation put out by AS Records. I’m loving the combination of styles in the dancing in this one. Sort of Rize goes to Addis and learns iskista. Or vice versa.
The next up is another one off track (at least at this point) by Mary Abebe called Ahun Naw. Again on a mutated reggaeton tip. I like the otherworldy keys. Super catchy hook too. I found this track on the same VCD that I found the Gurageton track on. Unfortunately, both of them come as video files. Although I managed to extract the video and create an MP3, the quality is pretty bad. So, I’m not posting the audio for these…..
Lastly, a video of Jonny Ragga’s track, “Abshewi.” Although there is a burgeoning reggae scene in Ethiopia (almost exclusively in Addis), there is very little released music available. Jonny Ragga is practically a house hold name there. His record, “Give me the key,” on Mango Records, can be found from most street vendors and record shops. Here’s an MP3 of “Give me the key,” the video clip of which can also be found on youtube. This is a 192kbps rip. Sorry for the digital hiccough at the beginning. The original CD has the same thing…..
Some “modern traditional” Amharic music I got in Addis Ababa. On my first record buying excursion in Addis, I was really disappointed by what I heard at the record shops. Fortunately, most of the shops are very helpful, friendly and willing to play samples of CDs. I was disappointed with the production – the preset sounds, the looped beats with very little variation, the fake saxophones and electric pianos and cheesy sound effects. After spending some weeks riding in local minibuses, taxis and buses, I gained a new perspective on this “modern traditional” music – it sounds TOTALLY different coming out of a crackling and distorted speaker while cruising around Addis (or while chewing chat on bus headed for Harar for that matter). A cheap and easy subsitute for travelling all the way to Ethiopia to hear it in context maybe to plug your CD player into a distortion pedal, close your eyes and will yourself to Piassa……..
I don’t know the artist, title or album of either of these tracks – I can’t read Amharic……..so, I’m just including the covers and tracklists. Track 9 from the above CD and it’s released on the Picolo Music label. Track 3 from the CD below (auto-tune set to pentatonic!) is released on the Master Sounds label.
If there is somebody out there who reads Amharic and would be willing to enlighten me as to the names of the tracks and artists, I’d be very grateful! Thanks!
Beyaynet – I wished that everyday was wednesday or friday.
I’ve spent the last 5 weeks or so in Ethiopia doing location sound for a documentary on the Ethiopian Wolf, producing, recording and researching music and making another of my own mini-documentaries (will post soon!).
Eritbu Agegnehu Askenaw
This is a track that I recorded with Eritbu Agegnehu Askenaw aka Solomon in Addis Ababa. This is from the recording for the mini-doc. Solomon is an azmari, or minstrel, who plays in a club called Duka in the Kazanthis neighborhood of Addis. I’d been invited by a friend to go to Duka and we had arranged to meet there. I showed up on time and waited and waited and waited. My friend never showed up and in the meantime, Solomon focused most of his attention on me, making jabs and jokes in English and a LOT of stuff in Amharic that went completely over my head and had everybody else there laughing their heads off. And, looking at me…..
Anyway, we had a chat afterwards and he turned out to be incredibly sweet and open to recording and doing a small interview. That, I’ll post soon…..for now, have a listen to his track……