dub colossus

Visiting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, irrevocably altered Nick Page’s musical perspective. On his second collaboration with Ethiopia’s finest talents, the man known as Dubulah once again transitions smoothly between far-ranging styles including Azmari traditional, reggae, rock, and even hip hop. While the album’s mood segues continually, each iteration is an unnoticed evolution from the previous flawless entry, thanks to the masterful foreman of the collaboration. Dub’s production touches are the resin sealing the work into a coherent offering, demonstrating Ethiopia’s vibrant spirit.

The album is mostly sung in the lovely, ephemeral syllables of Azmari – one of 90 languages spoken in Ethiopia, and one that lends itself well to Dubulah’s epic sounds. Resonating reggae keystrokes, gently hammering drum claps, and fluttering flutes all match the tongue’s fluidity, best exemplified by the feathery “Wey Fikir.” Then there is the album’s only jarring change, a familiarly reassuring switch back to English on “Satta Massagana.” Suddenly, Western listeners have intellectual concepts to accompany the wafting, visceral messages. Listeners can rock out to “Yeh Shimbraw Tir Tir,” and then groove to the snakelike sway of a sidewinder in the desert wind to “Kuratu,” perhaps inappropriate for the wet land the musicians hail from. The capstone is “Guragigna” – a militantly musical style by irresistible instructors who show us how to shake.

On this album huge horn sections boom, steadfastly accompanied by funky guitarists. Interspersed digital key notes are messengers of the human guides who, in expressing their existence, lead listeners and artisans both on a merry and scintillating voyage.