Teshome Mitiku

Topia's Deluge

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It's a sad commentary on the provincialism of the American music consumer that an artist might be massively popular in his homeland for decades without registering a blip in the U.S. Such is the case with Teshome Mitiku, a superstar in his native Ethiopia since the '60s, when he fronted the Soul Ekos Band, the first in his country to weld its indigenous sounds to then-popular rock and R&B elements. Only now, some four decades later, has Mitiku -- who's been a member of Washington, D.C.'s bustling Ethiopian expat community since 1995, having previously spent many years in Sweden -- finally released an album for the American marketplace. Topia's Deluge is essentially a mainstream pop recording. Its synth lines and other melodic instrumentation, its orchestrations and beats -- both danceable and smooth -- will sound familiar to any listener of contemporary radio, and Mitiku's robust yet subtle vocals and rounded-edges production is easily accessible. English translations are provided, allowing the listener more of an opportunity to understand that these songs of love and spirituality, equality and freedom from hate and war, are universal, language barriers be damned. Mitiku's clear and strong voice, and these uncomplicated songs, would no doubt translate beautifully to a live situation as well.

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