A Town Called Addis

Dub Colossus

Released 13 October 2008

  1. Azmari Dub
  2. Entoto Dub
  3. Tazeb Kush
  4. Shegye Shegitu (Blue Nile Mix)
  5. Yeka Sub City Rockers
  6. Shem City Steppers
  7. Tizita Dub
  8. Black Rose
  9. Neh Yelginete
  10. Ophir Dub
  11. Sima Edy
  12. Ambassel
  13. Mercato Music

Liner notes

This project brings together an extraordinary but little-known African musical heritage, a labour of love recording in a makeshift studio in downtown Addis Ababa, and then a journey back to Real World Studios in England’s west country, to capture for the first time ever in the UK some of Ethiopia’s finest performers.

This project is the vision of Dub Colossus’ Dubulah— aka Nick Page. A prolific composer, guitarist, bass player and programmer, Nick started his music career with Mykaell Riley (Steel Pulse) and in 1990 formed Transglobal Underground with Tim Whelan and Hammid Man-Tu. He produced, wrote, and played on six albums before leaving in 1997 to co-found Temple of Sound with Neil Sparkes.

Ethiopian music is the hidden gem of Africa. At the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, Ethiopia was in the final years of the imperial decline of Haile Selassie and the early years of a brutally repressive junta led by Mengistu. Within the confines of this stifling and constrictive environment there flowered some astonishing music.

At times showing Fela Kuti’s influences, in the big band sax flavour and at other times a different take on regional music, this is a music that is accessible to all and championed by the likes of Robert Plant, Brian Eno, and Elvis Costello. The style of contemporary Ethiopian music captured by Dub Colossus ranges from dreamy blues and hypnotic grooves, to Ethiojazz piano and driving funk brass.

 

A Town Called Addis was inspired by meeting, writing, and working with singers and musicians in Addis Ababa in August 2006; it is a collaboration between Dub Colossus (Nick Page) and these amazing musicians covering Azmari and traditional styles as well as the popular singing styles of the 60s and 70s. It seeks to combine the golden years of ethiopique beats (popular again thanks to the release of the critically acclaimed “Ethiopique” compliations) and ethiojazz with the dub reggae styles of early 70s groups like the Abyssinians and the Mighty Diamonds…”along with a hint of Sun Ra…” says Nick Page.

The first sessions took place in a breeze block hut, under a corrugated iron roof bombarded by the sounds of the rainy season, high up on the mountain plateau where Addis is built.  “…the sound of children playing, dogs barking, and women washing all permeate the sessions and help the flavour of the record, albeit as ambient smoke…..Although a howling cat chasing a rat under the roof destroyed one vocal take completely…!

“We brought these unique urban field recordings home to Real World to complete the picture. In March 2008 we invited a group of outstanding performers from Addis to travel to the UK. Some of these artists are unknown talents who have never traveled outside of their country before now, while others such as singer Sintayehu “Mimi” Zenebe (an Addis Ababa nightclub owner known as the Ethiopian Edith Piaf) and master saxophonist Feleke Hail (a classical composer, lecturer and head of music at the Yared Music School, and part of a dynastic tradition stretching back far beyond the classic hits his father arranged for Mahmoud Ahmed in the late 1960s) have a huge reputation.

They are joined by Teremag Weretow who, with his plaintive voice, playing his messenqo (one-string fiddle) is a youthful carrier of an ancient tradition; extraordinary pianist Samuel Yirga, an exciting new discovery and young prodigy of classical and ethiojazz; and finally the glamourous star Tsedenia Gebremarkos, winner of a Kora award as the best female singer in East Africa in 2004.”

From the most primitive recording context to one of the best in the world, this project is an audio journey that invites discovery of one of the most alluring, funky, and seductive genres of African music.

Reviews

  • There could be few musicians better qualified to initiate a more focused alliance of contemporary grooves with the distinctive strains of soul and jazz coming out of modern Ethiopia The Financial Times (UK)
  • Dub Colossus fuse traditional Ethiopian music with spacey dub...Azmari Dub sashays along with majestic horns and impressive vocal gymnastics from Sintayehu Zenebe, while the haunting washint flute and simmering organ that weave through Yeka Sub City Rockers recall Ethio-jazz master Mulatu Astatqe. Q Magazine (UK)
  • It is an adventurous mix of modern beats and jazz rhythms... If you want to explore the music of Ethiopia, it begins with a musical project called Dub Colossus. Inside World Music (USA)
  • no musician had thought to actually join reggae and Ethiopian music, until now....On the record, the two different traditions -- Ethiopian music and dub reggae - bring each other to life. Warbling Ethiopian singers breathe crisp mountain air into dub's humid depths, while dub's heavy bass anchors the sometimes ethereal folk....A Town Called Addis is a rare album. NPR Music
  • The swirl of sensuous vocals, cinematic horns and grounding bass lines have been brought together to majestic effect...one of the albums of the year. Independent On Sunday (UK)
  • From the gently stomping reggae of Ophir Dub to the widescreen soundscape of Yeka Sub City Rockers, it's an exhilarating fusion. The Guardian (UK)

Listen

  • Addis Through The Looking Glass

    Dub Colossus

    Released 25 April 2011

    The second chapter of Dub Colossus is a varied and sophisticated album bolstered by a growing trust and confidence within the band. Recorded mostly in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian contingent play a greater role in the proceedings, though this is still an experimental fusion set, not a straightforward recording of Ethiopian songs.
  • LDA v The Lunatics

    Los de Abajo

    Released 21 September 2005

    LDA v The Lunatics is one of the more glorious moments in the history of clashes between global music styles ... and the best album Los de Abajo made thus far. The Latin ska band collide with global dance act Temple of Sound in a recording studio in Mexico City with explosive results.

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