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Hailu Mergia ‎– Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye

Hailu Mergia
Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye
Style: World
Label: Awesome Tapes from Africa
Catalog Number: ATFA006
Released: 1984, 80's
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A time machine has spasmed and created a glitch merging nostalgic 1950’s Addis Ababa and futuristic 1980’s America into an other-worldly dimension – the result is Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye, by Ethiopian keyboard/accordion one-man-band Hailu Mergia. The ‘classic instrument’ in the album title is the accordion, a sentimental instrument from Mergia’s youth that epitomized earlier Ethiopian music circa the 50’s.

After leaving the groundbreaking Walias Band in 1983 and moving to America, Mergia recorded the album while studying at Howard University. There, in a fellow student’s studio, he set out to record an homage to the accordion in hopes of reviving its popularity in Ethiopian music culture; however, he cleverly made use of the environment he found himself in, reworking traditional Ethiopian melodies with modern instruments in the studio. Electric piano, drum machine, and analog synthesizer infiltrate the album, giving it a one-of-a-kind sound.

Originally released on cassette in 1984, Awesome Tapes from Africa (ATFA) founder Brian Shimkovitz discovered the mind-blowing cassette in an Ethiopian music shop, quickly tracked down Mergia and released a vinyl reissue in 2013. The action brought Mergia a new wave of international recognition and relaunched his touring career. ATFA has since released other Mergia albums, all well worth a listen. The music is warm, simple and full of fluttering melodies rich in joy.

– Lauren Fay Levy

Recommended – A2 Sewnetuwa, D3 Shilela, B1Laloye, C2 Anchin Alay Alegn

Tags: Afro / Ethiopian Jazz / Synthesizer / Tapes
Tracklist:

A1 Shemonmuanaye
A2 Sewnetuwa
B1 Laloye
B2 Wegene
B3 Hari Meru Meru
C1 Amrew Demkew
C2 Anchin Alay Alegn
C3 Ambasel
D1 Hebo Lale
D2 Belew Beduby
D3 Shilela

Credits:

Moog Synthesizer, Rhodes Electric Piano, Accordion, Arranged By – Hailu Mergia
Design – Birch Miller

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