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- Assiyo Bellema by Various
9/10 Mike Staff review, 07 March 2013
Yet more goodies from our friends at Mississippi Records this week, with my personal pick of the batch being this infectiously groovy collection of Ethiopian soul and r’n’b from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The press release contains the phrases “all hits” and “non stop party” and the track list contains names like Mulatu Astatke, Seyfou Yohannes, Ayelew Mesfin, Getatchew Kassa and Abbebe Tessemma.
It comes out of the blocks hard with Astatke’s ‘Assiyo Bellema’ and Tessemma’s ‘Ashasha Beyew’ both boasting irresistible polyrhythmic grooves, the former bouncing along with queasy steel drum details, while the latter is driven by organ chords and lovely bright brass.
While other highlights come courtesy of Yohannes’ lounge jazz-inflected ‘Yekermo Sew’ with smooth sax, bubbling guitar work and a fascinating cyclic piano line, Mesfin’s bouncy funk-soaked ‘Lene Antchi Bitcha Nesh’ and the irresistible polyrhythmic call-and-response simplicity of Damtew Ayele’s ‘Wefe Yelala’, the whole LP is a delight, although with these warm exotic shuffle grooves it feels like more of a soiree than a party. Either way it’s heartily recommended.
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