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DUB COLOSSUS

Photo by John Couzens

 

Featuring special guests Dr Das on bass (ex-Asian Dub Foundation), Nick Van Gelder on drums (ex-Jamiroquai) and The Horns of Negus (Dr John), plus DJ support from Jamie Renton (Chilli Fried), Duke Etienne and Cal Jader (Heads High).

 

Live at Dingwalls, London

 

8 July 09

 

 

 

 

THE IMPOSTERSary Couzens

A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

This outing marked the second appearance of Dub Colossus at Digwalls, and if the pre-show buzz in the club was anything to go on, there were many enthusiastic fans in the crowd. This intriguingly eclectic Ethiopian group also created a stir at last year’s Glastonbury Festival and will soon be taking their bows at this summer’s Womad and Solfest weekends as well. It would seem then that momentum is building on both sides...

From the outset, with the sensational ‘Mimi’ Zenebe on vocals, the Ethiopian ‘Edith Piaf’, the combined infectiousness of the group’s musical rhythms (a twelve piece band for this tour) and Zenebe’s plaintively uplifting wail form irresistibly infectious patterns which stir the soul and inspire animated dancing. Back home in Ethiopia, Zenebe is the owner of the Doku Club in Addis, a venue dedicated to traditional Azmari music. For those of you who don’t know, (as I didn’t) an Azmari is ‘an Ethiopian singer-musician, comparable to the European bard,’ the difference being that in addition to being accomplished at singing ‘extemporized verses,’ Azmari also tend to accompany themselves on either a one stringed fiddle, called a messenqo or a krar or lyre. In this case, amazingly expressive messenqo honours are performed by the inimitable Teremage Woretaw, who also contributes emotive vocals at times, and along with Zenebe, carries on the Azmari tradition.

The other vocalist in this group, who is equal to, but very different from Zenebe in terms of style, is Tsedenia Gebremarkos. By her own admission, Gebremarkos views herself (according to a You Tube interview) as the ‘modern’ singer in the group. In Ethiopia Gebremarkos is a well known performer and radio presenter, and, winner of a Kora award for ‘Best female singer in East Africa’ in 2004, a citation which further empahsies the fact that the core group which makes up Dub Colossus are without doubt a band to be contended with and, one that is definitely not to be missed at any event. 

That said, there are two more shining musicians who together with Zenebe, Woretaw and Gebremarkos, form the nucleus of Dub Colossus – master saxophonist, Feleke Hailu, a classical composer who is also the lecturer and Head of Music at the Yared Music School and son of Ethiopique legend Mahmoud Ahmed’s arranger, and young classical and ethiojazz prodigy, pianist Samuel Yirga, who astonishingly, claimed on the aforementioned interview with the group, not to have gone near a piano until five years ago. On this tour, this accomplished, experimental group also features multi-layering support from musicians originating from several other musically mixed and lauded groups, though the core members of this outfit would themselves be more than capable of igniting crowds on their own highly creative initiative.

The group’s original work, A Town Called Addis was the intriguing result of a unique project inspired by meetings and subsequent collaborations between Ethiopian singers and musicians in Addis Ababa in August, 2006, and covered traditional musical styles along with popular singing styles of the 60’s and 70’s. Their recently released EP, A Return to Addis features two brand new tracks, along with two compulsively listenable remixes of songs from their original CD.

With intoxicating blends such as those found on the reverberating ‘Sima Edy’ a heady remix from the group’s new EP, Dub Colossus is sure to fire imaginations and inspire impromptu dancing wherever they appear. I for one am thoroughly hooked! And, just in case you’re wondering, it makes no difference that the singers’ language is far from ours as the grooves the group produces are no-less compelling for it, in fact these inconsequential but intriguing differences, which render literal meanings impossible only serve to make their music more entrancing.

A seemingly, subconsciously rambling intro from piano wizard Yirga on one number seemed more like a solo than an introduction to a song, but being able to ‘expect the unexpected’ from this group, whose many influences can be heard wafting through their music is one of its many blessings, as with of course, potent lashings of dub reggae as well as low key funk, jazz (Ethio and otherwise), classical, more traditional Azmari grooves and whatever else drifts past the musical consciousness of the performers while they are playing, anything can and does reach their openly appreciative listeners’ ears, all of it savour-worthy. I even momentarily detected strains of 50’s rock n roll influences emanating from their backing musicians along with occasional split second interludes vaguely reminiscent of prog-rock, proving that like all effective works of art, the group’s work will more than likely, often be projected upon and open to interpretations based on individual experience. In their present touring incarnation in particular, the group’s output is a confluence of musical styles, though all seem to be actively acknowledging the over-riding influence of African music.
 
When Dub Colossus was completing work on A Town Called Addis, for most of them, it their first trip out of Ethiopia. With any luck, you will catch them on one of their upcoming journeys.

 

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‘Return to Addis’

 

EP out on CD and digital on 15 June
(Real World Records/ RWEP13)

In keeping with Real World Records ethos of "High Tech and Handmade" there will also be an ultra limited release of 50 Dub Colossus 7" picture discs in June 2009, numbered and each one unique!

www.realworldrecords.com/artists/dub-colossus


www.myspace.com/dubcolossusmusic

 

Dingwalls, Middle Yard, Camden Lock, London NW1 8AB

www.dingwalls.com

Tickets £15 (booking fee may apply) from Ticketweb 08444 771 000/

www.ticketweb.co.uk, www.wegottickets.com, www.seetickets.com

Dub Colossus will also be appearing live at


WOMAD Charlton Park (24 July, Big Red Tent, www.womad.org)


and Solfest, Cumbria (28 August, www.solwayfestival.co.uk).

 

 

 

 

 

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