Dubtopia: Dub Colossus and A Town Called Addis (Music Review)

| 1/21/2009 3:37:25 PM

A Town Called AddisOnce an obscure subset of reggae, the music known as dub has mutated into a remarkably broad category, with digital-age DJs applying its looping, backmasking, slice-and-dice aesthetic to all sorts of music, from punk to house to world. On A Town Called Addis, veteran British producer Nick Page—a.k.a. Dub Colossus—taps traditional Ethiopian sounds and state-of-the-art mixology to create a modern dub classic.

From the first bright horn bursts, psychedelic sound effects, pulsing groove, and honeyed vocals of “Azmari Dub,” the album grabs listeners’ attention with its hyper-defined sounds. It’s the exact opposite of a murky mix, tantalizing the ear with a Sgt. Pepper–like landscape of sonic doodads and textures while respecting the Ethiopian music at its core. Page creates spectacular settings for rustic instruments such as the messenqo one-string fiddle, the washint flute, and the kraar harp and unveils surprise talents including the singer Sintayehu Zenebe, whom Page has called “the Edith Piaf of Ethiopia.”

If the music at times resembles jazz, it’s the cosmic, far-out jazz of the Sun Ra Arkestra, and if it occasionally enters the Afrobeat realm, it’s the funky turf of the master, Fela Kuti. But the music owes perhaps its largest debt to dub innovators from Lee “Scratch” Perry to the Clash, who were mashing up music long before Pro Tools came along. Dub is no longer dismissed as the work of stoners who spent too long at the mixing board, but has come into its own as a vital form full of endless possibilities. Dub Colossus exploits them to their fullest.

STREAMING TRACK: "Azmari Dub" by Dub Colossus from A Town Called Addis

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Invisible System_1
10/6/2009 5:25:35 AM

Nice review! I am Dan Harper who initiated this project whilst living in Addis Ababa. I was an aid worker out there for 3 years following 4 years in Mali and had my steadily growing studio with me which I built into 3 out -buildings behind my house. I was recording with most members of Dub Colossus for a while and invited Nick out to meet them and record what happended in my Worm Hole Studio. I also recently released my own album that was being recorded not just with the Dub Colossus crew but also Mahmoud Ahmed and many other traditional singers and players I bumped into in obscure clubs during my nights out in Addis over the years. The response and reviews have been incredible and make me very happy as the aid work was very frustrating being bogged down by UK bureaucracy and politics it was hard to make things happen and move. We have had 5 star reviews e.g. Financial Times, fRoots and www.LAsThePlace.com etc; 4 star reviews e.g. ITunes/www.allmusic.com, current Rock N Reel / RF2 mag etc All reviews are listed at www.harperdiabate.com (our record label/mic company and charity) - as well as at www.myspoace.com/invisiblesystem and on the Invisible System group and page at www.facebook.com Also ciritcally aclaimed reviews from The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, Mojo, Uncut, Songlines etc etc all on the webs. You can hear and buy the CD e.g. amazon.co.uk, play.com, psyshop.com, specialist record shops (google it) - Invisible System, Punt (Made in Ethiopia), itunes, CDbaby.com etc or via us at www.harperdiabate.com Guests on the album also include e.g. Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara, Ozric Tentacles, Captain Sensible, Simon Hinkler (The Mission), Baka Beyond, Zion Train etc Best wishes Dan / Invisible System

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