Friday, 31 October 2008

Dub Colossus - A Town Called Addis (Real World 2008)

As we continue to explore Africa and its hidden beauties, more music is being discovered continually and thrust into widely-scoped projects such as this Dub Colossus album. Now we're heard Senegalese and Malian music through Ernest Ranglin and Damon Albarn, it's time to head to Ethiopia and check out the amazing jazz and traditional folk music they're rocking out to over there. With this and 'Les Ethiopiques' we get a glimpse of the variety and majesty of Ethiopian folk/jazz music. The difference with this album is that it fusing its findings with dub and reggae creating a marriage of melodious proportions.

So, enough preample about ethiojazz, let's talk Dub Colossus, the brainchild of Dubulah (Nick Page), a respected guitarist and producer who was an original member of Transglobal Underground before forming Temple of Sound and done more for the world music scene than we'll ever realise. As a labour of love, in 2006, he visited Addis Ababa, rounded up some of its finest local musicians, experts in Azmari jazz, classical Ethiopian folk music, singers from the 60s/70s stable and ethio-beats, got them to rehearse and jam in a breezeblock hut under a corrugated iron roof in the middle of monsoon season, before recording them and compiling hours upon hours of beautiful music. They then relocated to Real World studios with some of the musicians, recorded them professionally and set about the task of dubbing up the recordings.

The bass-heavy result finds a sensuous alluring groove throughout, soothing your sense and hypnotising you with its repeated refrains, dub explosions and the pulse of the brass sections jamming and freestyling over the frequencies. The talented musicians work up into a frenzy of excitement and frenzy as they hit spiritual levels of enlightenment with their jamming. Intro, 'Azmari Dub' sets forth the ideals and mission statements of the piece with its dubbed out blissful jazz voyage, while 'Shegeye Shegitu' features a more classical approach, with marching handclaps, the wail of the messenqo (one-stringed fiddle) and the call and response of the singer and his choir all joyously sending spiritual messages out into the ether. 'Yeka Sub City Rockers' takes things back to the dub with delays and piano skanks filling out the speakers with their intensity and groove-filled wide-eyed enthusiasm.

This album is a special journey into the heart of Ethiopia grooving back and forth, calling and responding with its listener, giving you a seductive almost rapturous set of songs to sink your ears into. It's an audio journey through the heart of a city into the mountains and contains some excellent moods. Props to Dubulah who was able to sit with the hours of compiled music and turn it into something new and fresh. His celebration of Ethiopian music comes in his ability to turn it into something new, and actually make his own songs, stamp his own identity into each dub. Instead of recording musicians, you can hear his instruction, his direction and his production, turning out one of the best 'world' music albums of the year, a true journey into a town called Addis.

Dub Colossus

At the Barbican:

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