SEPTEMBER 3, 2012
Krar Collective Releases Debut Alubm
Ethiopia Super Krar Due Out September 10thby Tom Pryor
UK-based Ethiopian trio Krar Collective recently announced the release on their debut album, Ethiopia Super Krar on the Riverboat label, scheduled for September 10th. The group - whose sound and musical identity are centered on Ethiopia's ancient lyre-like instrument, the krar - really wowed us with their showcase at last year's WOMEX conference in Denmark.
Since then they've been generating more buzz with a series of high profile UK performances, including this year's WOMAD festival, the London Olympics-affiliated River of Song concert series and the annual Africa Express tour.
The new album's full press release is reprinted below.
Krar Collective serve up mind-blowing Ethiopian grooves on this excellent debut. Armed with theirkrar, kebero drums and stunning vocals, they have created Ethiopia Super Krar - an album rooted in tradition, and soaked with attitude.
Ethiopia Super Krar is Krar Collective's dazzling debut release. The unstoppable trio, dubbed 'the White Stripes of Ethiopia' for their minimalist rocky sound, are favourites on the London and increasingly on the international live circuit. They are renowned for dynamic performances of their contagious music and equally infectious dance moves. Ethiopia Super Krar was recorded to tape on an original 1960s 24-track reel to reel machine, an approach which helped to capture Krar Collective's music as close as possible to the live experience- the sound is real and honest, not a manufactured perfection.
The instrumental line-up features the krar and bass krar lyre, kebero drums, a one stringed masenqo fiddle, and a washint flute accompanying the band's distinctive vocals. Band leader Temesgen Zeleke and Genet Assefa share lead singer role. Genet is magnetic in performance and recording - her soaring ululations and perfectly delivered melodies fill the spacious sound. Temesgen Zeleke is a revolutionary krar player - standing to strum and pick his electrified instrument, often kneeling to the floor during his killer solos in intense Hendrix fashion, all on just six open strings. As a young student Temesgen was mentored and encouraged by legendary Ethio-jazzman Mulatu Astatke, and an instrumental arrangement by Astatke features on Ethiopia Super Krar. The famous Ethiopian actress Asnakech Worku, who pioneered the krar as an accompaniment to her emotional ballads during the 1960s and 70s, is also paid a tribute via a cover of her spine-tingling song 'Endye Eyerusalem'.
Other songs in the repertoire are traditional and represent different Ethiopian tribes. The names of the tracks ('Ambassel', Guragigna', 'Konso', 'Oromigna', 'Wello', 'Welaita') are related to the names of ethnic groups or geographical regions. 'Tizita' is a ballad form in Ethiopian music associated with remembering loved ones and the 'King of Tizita' Mahmoud Ahmed, and 'Ete- mete' is a children's song.
Krar Collective present their sound and their philosophy - rural music in urban clothes, and a belief Ethiopian traditions need to be respected, enjoyed and preserved. Influenced by their London home - in 2012 they represent Ethiopia in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad - their Ethiopian roots and their own abounding creative streak, they are setting the scene alight with 2012 shows in India, Canada, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, and Poland even before their first album release- Ethiopia Super Krar looks set to spread their fire even wider and even wilder!