Dub Colossus

This project is Dub Colossus, Dubulah, aka Nick Page. Nick Page is a composer, guitarist, bass player, and programmer who has collaborated with many notable artists and eccentrics. In 1990 he formed Trans-Global Underground with Tim Whelan and Hammid Man-Tu, produced-wrote-played six albums before leaving in 1997 to form Temple of Sound with Neil Sparkes. Dub Colossus In a Town Called Addis was born from the collaboration with Ethiopian musicians and singers in Addis Ababa, August 2006. Dub Colossus collaborates with these talented musicians to cover Azmari and traditional styles, as well as popular singing styles from the 60s and 70s. Sintayu ‘Mimi” Zenebe, known as the Edith Piaf of Ethiopian song, owns the Doku Club Addis, which is a venue dedicated to Azmari music. Tsedenia Gebremarkos is a respected and well-respected performer and radio host. She was awarded the Kora Award in 2004 as the best female singer of East Africa. Feleke Hailu is a master saxophonist and lecturer as well as Head of Music at Yared Music School. Feleke Hailu is part of a long tradition of dynastic music that goes back to the classic songs his father composed for Mahmoud Ahmad, the legendary Ethiopiques series composer. Samuel Yirga, a remarkable young pianist and Yared Music School student, is an extraordinary new discovery. Teremage Woretaw, a young Azmari traditionalist with his plaintive voice u0026 messenqo (one string fiddle), joins them. Teremage, Samuel, Tsedenia and Feleke all traveled to Real World Studios to complete the album. This was most of their first trip out of Ethiopia. To much critical acclaim, A Town Called Addis was released in autumn 2008. The band toured extensively throughout 2009 and 2010 and played at festivals all over Europe and beyond before finishing in New Zealand. The big sound of this band has delighted audiences from Glastonbury to WOMAD. The 12 member Dub Colossus live band are tight, lively and exciting. The band is a spectacle to see. It includes a brass section, keyboards and percussion, as well as krar, bass drums, guitar and krar. Tsedenia and Mimi sing stunningly, mixing traditional Ethiopian sounds with modern dub. After a successful summer recording and mastering a new album, the band is back and in better form than ever. The band’s second album, “Addis Through The Looking Glass”, was released to great acclaim in April 2011. Nick Page, the producer and musician best known as Dubulah and founder of Transglobal Underground, says that “the aim” is to “continually surprise.” The Dub Colossus new album, Addis Through The Looking Glass does exactly that. This is a significant departure in the band’s incredible history. Dubulah first visited Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to work with musicians and to explore traditional Azmari styles and 60s Ethiopian pop, Ethiojazz, and 70s Jamaican Dub Reggae. He met some amazing artists there – Tsedenia Gebremarkos, a female vocalist and highly successful African pop singer, and Sintayu ‘Mimi Zenebe, who runs a nightclub at Addis. Their first album, A Town Called Addis was released in 2008. It was widely acclaimed as one of 2008’s most innovative fusion albums. The mix of traditional Ethiopian styles, jazz, and dub reggae was unique. The experiment continues with a longer, more complex and sophisticated album. This time the Ethiopian contingent plays a larger role. Although it’s an experimental fusion set and not a simple recording of Ethiopian songs at this point, the trust and confidence that the band has gained over the past two years has been growing. Dubulah explains that they said to me this time “we’d rather show you our take than you interpreting it.” It was a great exchange. They would suggest topics and ideas for the next stage of the group. And I would transport some of their ideas to another place. Recording took place mostly in Addis Ababa. Local musician Abiyou Solomon provided a space in his home for the band to record. “It was brilliant. There were three cupboards that we could use as vocal booths or put the horn section.” The only problem was the sound of rain hitting Addis. Further sessions were held in the UK where another group of musicians joined. The group includes Mykaell Riley (reggae singer), Jamiroquai’s drummer Nick Van Gelder and the Horns of Negus brass section. Dr Das of Asian Dub Foundation provided bass work, while Bernard O’Neill played double bass. O’Neill also works with Dubulah in Syria, which is heavily Arabic-influenced. Dubulah plays the guitar, keyboards, harmonicas, and keyboards. He also co-wrote many of the songs. It is a record that surprises and changes direction constantly. There are jazz-dub instrumentals with a wide screen, drifting feel to them like the title track. There are also bluesy songs featuring Tsedenia’s messenqo fiddle and traditional krar harp. The album has been given a Dub Colossus makeover, which includes spacey, microtonal keyboard effects on the otherwise sparse Yigermel. Dubulah said that the song is a beautiful one and reminded him of sitting on a hillside in Gondar at night, with a fire burning. Although I have traditional recordings of the song, it was not necessary to provide an Ethiopian Azmari album. Songs such as Kuratu, which is a thoughtful, soulful piece about the sometimes dominant role played in Ethiopia by women, are sung and performed by Tsedenia. Samuel Yirga’s inventive piano playing will be featured on Real World later this season. The album, produced and released by Dubulah and promising to be a great mix of Ethiojazz, solo piano, and soul. Guragignia is a popular live show favorite that features Mimi’s lead vocals. It sounds almost like a taxi driving at top speed in Addis Ababa’s rush hour. There’s also reggae. These include the brass-backed, jazzy Dub Will Tear us Apart and the sturdy Wehgene featuring Mimi’s sister Tiruedel. Two Ethiopian-flavoured versions of classic Jamaican reggae songs are also available. Satta Massagana was originally recorded in 1976 by The Abyssinians. Now lyrics are in English and Amharic with excellent brass work from The Horns of Negus. Althea’s Uptown Top Ranking is also given an identical multi-lingual treatment. This song was hugely popular in the UK, so Dubulah recorded it. Tsedenia was the only member of the band who heard it. Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking, which was also originally recorded by The Abyssinians in 1976, is given a similar multi-lingual treatment. It’s music that has been a hit among Western music fans since the Ethiopiques compilations of that period. This was Emperor Haile Selassie’s time, who loved jazz and brass ensembles – but not the reggae that the Rastas worshipped as the ultimate ageing ruler. – this was when many of the country’s most talented players could be heard playing with the Police or Army Band or the Imperial Bodyguard Band. This music scene was destroyed by the Mengistu regime’s repression. Many musicians fled the country to find work elsewhere. However, it is currently recovering. Dubulah stated that there had been no brass sections in Addis for twenty years. But, a new jazz-flavoured scene has emerged there. The Bole Better Brass is one of the most exciting new horn sections. They are session players who frequently work with Samuel Yirga and Feleke Hailu in Addis. You can hear them on two tracks. The Bole Better Brass are featured on Feqer Aydelem Wey’s driving instrumental, as well as an instrumental treatment for a song written by Ayelew Mesfin of the Ethiopiques. They also appear on Gubeliye, the album’s last track. Feleke wrote the piece first, adding a variety of brass and reed instrument sounds, then Dubulah finished it. This is an unusual track that’s quite different from anything else on the album. It’s an experimental “soundtrack of the madness in Addis”, which mixes dub and big band styles with a strong bass line and brass work. This powerful finale marks another milestone in Dubulah’s colorful and varied career. His interest in reggae began in Hackney, east London, when he was a member of a school reggae band. He said that he had “spent time trying out to be an avant-garde musician and failing miserably”, and then worked with Mykaell Riley, a reggae singer, “so I went form trying to sound like Bartok, to playing in the style the Mighty Diamonds and Black Uhuru, and Steel Pulse!” With Tim Whelan, Hamid Man Tu and Mykaell Riley, he formed Trans-global Underground. He recorded six albums with the world music pioneers. After that, he left to form Temple of Sound. He worked with Natacha Atlas and became a prolific producer along the way. bio from www.dubcolossus.org/

Leave a Comment