Various Artists

Ethiopiques, Vol. 18: Ethiopiques Artists

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For the 18th volume in the Ethiopiques series, there's a return to the venues of volume two, the azmaris or tiny cabarets that came to life after the fall of the dictatorship in 1991. When they were first explored, they were new places, offering very raw, rootsy entertainment. Apparently not much has changed. The music is still very spare, with fiddle, accordion, and percussion forming the main sources behind the voice. But it's the voice that's all important here, especially the lyrics, which are sung in wild styles, with emotion that to Western ears often seems to go over the top. It's all very raw and real, all too often on the verge of falling apart, but never quite disintegrating. It adds to the recordings producer Francis Falceto did several years ago, showing yet another facet of the way Ethiopia continues to develop musically.

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