Addis Through The Looking Glass - Dub Colossus
I have a real soft spot for Real World Records. My first exposure to the potential of contemporary expressions for global music, (not just fusions or folkloric with four on the floor dance beats but total modern reimaginings of global music), was Mraya, the Real World debut by Algerian singer Abdel Ali Slimani. This year, Peter Gabriel’s iconic label celebrates 23 years and almost 200 albums. Gabriel himself has earned godfather status in the genre he helped pioneer. Acts like Afro Celt Sound System have set the bar for all worldbeaters to follow. Long anticipated is this year’s release of the sophomore album from Dub Colossus called ‘Addis Through The Looking Glass’ on Real World Records. The project is the brainchild of Nick Page a.k.a. Dubulah, founder of another one of worldbeat’s premier pioneers Trans Global Underground. The disc was primarily recorded in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Where the project’s debut stayed close to dance territory, Addis Through The Looking Glass veers more into jazz and the mystical. As Dubulah reasons, “The aim is to constantly surprise. What’s the point otherwise?” There are plenty of surprises here, most of them very sweet indeed. Completing the sessions back in the UK afforded the addition of legendary Steel Pulse vocaist Mykaell Riley.The jazzier feels are reinforced with double-bass work by Bernard O’Neill and the Horns of Negus.These rich instrumental elements combine with the one-drop’s spaciousness and the complexities of Ethiopia’s dance traditions in a playlist of spiraling instrumentals and gorgeous vocal pieces. I challenge reggae aficionados who think they’ve heard it all to spin track 3, Wey Fikir softly intoned by Ethiopian songstress Tsedinia Gebremarkos Woldelilassie (there’s a handle for ya). It’s a truly fresh and beautiful approach to a genre that seems ripe for reinvention. Addis Through The Looking Glass is a marvelous validation for Real World, a label that continues to point the way and affix a demanding standard to contemporary global music.