Rough Guide to Ethiopia
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This Rough Guide bursts at the seams with everything from golden age Ethio-jazz to contemporary dub-club fusion. Classic tunes from Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete appear alongside Krar Collective, Dub Colossus and more.
Bonus CD: Introducing Invisible System. Invisible System is the result of an Anglo- Ethiopian collaboration led by visionary producer, Dan Harper. The music grooves from dub and reggae, to straight-up techno and post-punk, all infused with an unmistakeable Ethiopian edge.
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If the above sounds at all appealing to you, then take a chance on this disc. This anthology is a decent sample of music ranging from the "golden age" of Ethiopian music (1969-1978)--exhaustively and admirably covered by the multi-volume Ethiopiques series--to the present. There are no examples of jazz, which is this collection's one shortcoming as a survey; once upon a time, at least, Ethiopian jazz was as prominent as the more pop-oriented music on this disc. Hence the one-star docking. An accompanying booklet provides a brief overview of Ethiopian music and short biographies of the performers represented--always nice to have as additional orientation in a perhaps-unfamiliar musical landscape.
Also included is a bonus disc by a group of musicians now living in Europe called Invisible System; it's more dub and hip-hop in form but still sounding "Ethiopian." Whatever that means.
As with most all the Rough Guide discs I own, this one is a good place to start for exploring this fascinating music. If you like this, then I highly recommend you spring for the 2-CD The Very Best of Ethiopiques. Its focus is on music from the "golden age," but it includes jazz along with the pop and funk selections; moreover, a few of the artists on the Rough Guides disc also appear on the Ethiopiques disc. Enjoy!