Astatke's grooves frst came the to the listening public's attention through the success of the film Broken Flowers and the popular Ethiopiques series. Then came an impromptu night at Cargo with brilliant percussive unit The Heliocentrics. A raucous session followed for Gilles Peterson's Radio One show and the rest shall we say is history. Peterson himself has said, "these guys are made for each other." And on the early evidence of listening to this I'd have to agree. "Cha, Cha," a new Astetke composition bears all his hallmarks; funky trumpet loops, that swaying, slightly uneasy percussive rhythm. What The Heliocentrics do is really beef his music up, with extra layers of drums and celestial sounds from all manner of other instruments. But the great thing is that incessant groove is never compromised. It's worth noting that this record is very much a shared project, a good half a dozen of the tracks composed by Catto and Ferguson. What is astonishing is the way it all marries together so effortlessly. I love the creepy effect of "Addis Black Window," and the kaleidoscopic "Blue Nile." The adventurous "Chinese New Year" is another high moment. This is basically a disgusting album in the sense that it's so damn good. We should marvel at the fact that every now and again a great musical idea comes to fruition and it ends up sounding like this. I waited like an excited schoolboy for this to arrive through the post. So should you.
A truly inspired collaboration that brings out the best in those involved. Mulatu Astatke's jazz with Ethiopian melodies is intriguing stuff and he was recently re-discovered partly via the Ethiopiques vol. 4 album that re-issued some of his 60's tracks. However, his recent solo album, Mulatu step's ahead, also released on Strut is for me a bit lightweight.
The Heliocentrics are a British based band influenced by the best of late 60's and early 70's spacey funk and jazz. They are led by Malcom Catto sometime drummer for Quantic Soul Orchestra who is also involved in discovering old records for Jazzman records. However, I do find the Heliocentric's own albums lack a bit of focus.
With this record you get the best of both worlds. The Heliocentrics add some oomph to the music as well as some nice spacey touches which give it a feel closer to the music on Ethiopiques vol.4, whilst also making the music sound more contemporary. Astatke's compositions give the album more depth and mean that the album isn't just a collection of interesting but similar instrumentals.
I should however point out that Astatke only appears on some tracks and this album really is a collaboration that features the Heliocentric's as equal partners. Yet the tracks do have a complementary feel and the album is overall homogenous. There are many catchy tracks on the album and my only complaint is that the first and last tracks are the weakest. Overall though it's a fantastic album.
Mulatu is unique. He moved to London in the 60's to study engineering and quickly became intoxicated by the jazz music of the time. He learnt to play the vibraphone and trumpet and moved to New York where he became influenced by funk music. So there you have it, Ethiopian, jazz, funk music which to this day is still only played by one man, yes Mulatu. That is why Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits love his music so much, because it is unique, and just the coolest music you're ever going to hear.
You want to listen to something different then check it out, you won't be disapointed.
Mulatu is a jazz pianist and composer, who I had admittedly never heard of before hearing this, who has teamed up with a UK based group of hip hop-ish musicians/remixers to produce this amazing melange of music.
The album has loads of trancey dance beats, deep pulsing bass lines and then, interspersed throughout, jazz piano, ethnic instrumentation, some of the strangest singing I have heard this side of "In The Bush of Ghosts" by Eno and Byrne.
So this album is a full on winner for me, it has a bit of everything going for it without becoming a proverbial dogs dinner.
having been to a gig without knowing a thing about this guy, I was really impressed and wanted to hear more. This CD proved to be the intro I needed and now I am hooked. The quality of the musicianship is excellent and the fusion of ethiopian and western music is fascinating. If you haven't heard this guy and like dipping your toes in world music, try this one if no other
this album is incredible! the heliocentrics back mulatu astatke's energetic jazz with some wonderful swirly textures and punctuate it all with brutal rhythms. some of the sax and brass lines will make you wince, theyre so good. i'm saving all my pennies and still had to shell out for this