Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ethiopian Music

So in response to a recent post, "Ammonite" asked whether I had any plans to make a compilation of Ethiopian music. My initial answer was going to be "No". While I now have a fair bit of music from Ethiopia, most of it is from that Éthiopiques series of jazz-influenced stuff from the early 1970s. Apart from that, I only really have that ethnographic compilation of music from Ethiopia and Eritrea, an album by Aster Aweke (not very good but possibly interesting), and a dreadful 1980s record by Mulatu Astatqé (neither good nor interesting). And that Dub Colossus record. So really any compilation would just be loads of Éthiopiques stuff and a few other tunes. With the Éthiopiques series, people would arguably just be better off acquiring copies of the actual records (thus far they are all good, but 1 (Golden Years of Ethiopian Music), 4 (Ethio Jazz & Music Instrumentale) & 8 (Swinging Addis) are particularly recommended). If that's a bit scary, there is already a commercially available best of the Éthiopiques out there.

On the other hand, the Éthiopiques stuff is far less monolithic than you might think. There is a world of difference between the Ethio-Jazz music and the Swinging Addis material, and Gétatchèw Mèkurya's crazy sax driven sounds are from another world entirely. And that's before you get into the more vocally led material by Mahmoud Ahmed or Alèmayèhu Eshèté. So a compilation that was 75% or more from the Éthiopiques series would not necessarily be that lopsided.

I might have to think more on this.

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