Muzika etipskih srednjovjekovnih futurističkih disco-klubova i seoskih katedrala.
Tche Belew - Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band FULL ALBUM ]:
The next Awesome Tapes From Africa LP release is by Hailu Mergia, the Ethiopian one-man-band accordion/keyboardist extraordinaire. Hailu made his name in Walias Band and later went on to do some visionary solo recordings. Hailu Mergia's beautiful and surprising 1985 foray into traditional Ethiopian songs via analog synth, electric piano and accordion has been remastered - www.awesometapes.com/
The label wing of Brian Shimkowitz's rightly titled Awesome Tapes From Africa have remastered Hailu Mergia's visionary, switched-on solo recordings of traditional Ethiopian songs played on analog synth, electric piano and accordion. 'Shemonmuanay' was first released in 1985 on Kaifa Records and features eleven delights blending the coy, winking melodies and phrasing of Ethiopian folk music with swaying machine rhythms and occasionally his own vocals. Haila received his earliest musical experience playing in the Ethiopian Army's music department, and progressed to playing in small bars as a solo singer. While contracted at Zula club with the Walias band, he and the group took the unprecedented step, in Ethiopia at least, to buy their own equipment (it was previously provided by the venue owners, who also had the power to fire at will). More lucrative contracts with hotels such as the Hilton followed, leading them to become the first Ethiopian band to tour in America. 'Shemonmuanay' captures the essence of Mergia's style during this period, a debonaire, exotic and refined style exuding an ambiance of futuristic elegance. Highly recommended! - boomkat
In 1977, Walias Band recorded a darkly bobbing funk instrumental with an ominous horn theme called “Muziqawi Silt”. It was a couple years after the overthrow of Haile Selassie by Mengistu Haile Mariam, and Mengistu’s Derg government had applied the brakes to Addis Ababa’s nightlife, making it much harder for a working band to make a living. Music was still being made in abundance, though, and cassettes ultimately made it a lot easier to duplicate and distribute it. “Muziqawi Silt” surfaced in collector circles in the U.S. and Europe in the 90s and was canonized by a 2003 Ethiopiques volume, and it’s since become one of the tiny handful of songs that non-Ethiopians use as a gateway into the country’s music. Antibalas even covered it.
Hailu Mergia was the keyboardist for Walias Band. His organ playing is one of the only things a lot of people know about Ethiopian music. Walias Band was more important than just that one track, though. When the band arrived on the scene, the typical arrangement was for the venue-- usually a hotel-- to provide a band with instruments. Walias broke that mold by buying their own and working out contracts with the venues they played. In the early 80s, during a tour of the United States, Mergia and a few other members decided not to return home. That was the end of the band, but they’d made their mark back home.
A few years after moving to the U.S., Mergia decided to record an album that merged the sounds of his youth with modern technology. Working alone, he assembled a drum machine, a Rhodes piano, a Yamaha DX7, and his accordion, and got to work arranging old Ethiopian songs for this mostly modern palette. The results are striking and unusual. If Cluster had been from Ethiopia instead of Germany, this is probably about what they would have sounded like. Mergia uses the Yamaha to make his buzzy bass lines, fills in chords and texture with the Rhodes, and then solos over the top, alternately on the accordion or the Yamaha DX7, in an inimitably Ethiopian style. The sound is spare and unaffected, the drum programming never deviating during any song, though he sometimes augments the rhythmic push with vocals halfway between beatboxing and chanting.
In addition to the fluttering modal melodies, there are other distinctly Ethiopian signatures running through the music, particularly in the triple meters and three-against-four rhythms of the songs. “Belew Beduby” stomps along on a swaying polyrhythm on a par with anything you’ll hear from early 70s Addis, while “Hebo Lale” modifies that beat a bit for more of a boogie feel, aided by a faster tempo. At the other end of the spectrum, “Sewnetuwa” drifts along on an almost eight-bit-sounding bass line, with Yamaha DX7 and accordion dueling on top.
The overall effect of the album is difficult to describe. The music is simple and straightforward, accomplished but not showy. It feels at once rural, nostalgic, and futuristic. Replace the drum machine with people clapping, and you’d be a hair’s breadth from an ethnographic recording. Drum machines and synthesizers are common ingredients of Ethiopian pop music today, but not in the same way they’re used here. Perhaps one of the things that sets this apart from other Ethiopian pop music is the fact that it was made in solitude, and specifically out of longing for a vanished past. It’s introverted in a way very little other music from the country is. It’s also not quite like anything else you’ve ever heard. - Joe Tangari