I’ve been listening to quite a bit of new music recently, in large part due to the 3 month free membership to Bowers and Wilkins’ Society of Sound that I received with my P5 Headphones. In fact, I’ve been listening to a lot more music — old and new — since I got the headphones. The albums I have downloaded through the Society of Sound have been particularly good, and I thought they might be worth sharing.
Dub Colossus - Dub Will Tear Us Apart
I hadn’t even heard of this Anglo-Ethiopian collaboration before, but Dub Colossus are fantastic. They play a combination of traditional Azmari songs, dub reggae and ‘Ethiojazz’, plus a bit of funk thrown in. The instrumentation is unusual, and the vocalists have wonderful, distinctive voices, which all makes for a really gripping album. I keep coming back to it and enjoying the many layers and the very catchy rhythms. It’s one of those albums that make it hard to keep still when you are listening to it. A bonus, as far as I am concerned, is that most of the vocals are sung in the Ethiopian language (Amharic, I assume, but I’m guessing because I wouldn’t know Amharic if it slapped me in the face). That means that I can listen to this album while I am writing without getting interference from the lyrics, which happens when I listen to songs sung in English. The combination of driving rhythms and interesting sounds works really well to keep my energy up and help me concentrate.
I like all the tracks, but am particuarly fond of the cover of ‘Uptown Top Ranking’, the very funky ‘Guragignia’, the call-and-response ‘Yeh Shimbraw Tir Tir’, and the beautiful, contemplative track ‘Medina’, which also has lovely ambient sounds of a thunderstorm at the end.
Samuel Yirga - The Habasha Sessions
This was a new album introduced a couple of days ago. Samuel Yirga is another Ethiopian artist (an Ethiojazz pianist), who coincidentally is part of the Dub Colossus line-up. He is an immensely talented, effortless pianist, and this album is absolutely lovely. It’s all fairly mellow jazz, but mixed in with traditional Ethiopian sounds and a flavour of Latin America here and there. It’s also gorgeously recorded. I thoroughly recommend a listen, even if you don’t think you like jazz.
The Apples - Looking For Trouble
This was a bit of a spur of the moment download for me (one of the benefits of having unlimited downloads with Society of Sound). Again, I hadn’t heard of The Apples before. They are an Israeli band, playing an instrumental mixture of funk, big band, with some Middle Eastern sounds, scratching and samples mixed in. I usually dislike sampling and scratching intensely, so I was prepared not to like this album. However, it won me over. They have tremendous energy, and the mix of sounds is so rich that it doesn’t become repetitive.
I really liked to explosion of sound that is ‘The Thang’, and the cool and funky ‘6th Stream’ and ‘Rhinocerize’. I have had quite a long period of listening to fairly gentle music, so The Apples are a bit of a shock with their blaring horns and fast beats, but it has been an invigorating change of pace. It’s good music to code to, I find.