Friday 25 October 2019

'Tch'elema' by Anbessa Orchestra

While our world continues to come to terms with its ever-changing socio and political climate, including continued threat of international conflict, divisive and dishonest politics that divide countries like the US and UK, a failed response to the real threat that climate change has on our lives...  A fire has been lit in the hearts of protesters but also within artists and musicians resulting in some truly stunning pieces of art being created, in many cases, out of anger and in revolt to these endless series of injustices that continue to unfold.

In October 2019, the Anbessa Orchestra release 'Tch'elema' (which in Amharic, translates to 'Darkness') and although it serves as their own response to events in the US, it isn't a piece of music born of anger, but one born of the belief that things will get better.  Conversely, 'Tch'elema' is that all important glimmer of light at the bottom of Pandora's Box.  It is hope.

Based in Brooklyn, New York - the home to talents including Antibalas, The Budos Band and The Dap-Kings - the 7-piece Anbessa Orchestra have presented their blend of Ethiopian musical culture for years: their debut 'EP' having been released in 2015 and subsequent follow-up 'Negestat' in 2018; the ensemble have proved a mainstay on the feverent New York live scene delivering their distinctive take on 60s/70s Ethiopian-inspired styles and compositions.

'Tch'elema' not only boasts the boundless skill, chemistry and dynamic of the Anbessa Orchestra musicians, but also the limitless talents of Dala Records' Billy Aukstik who, along with band leader and guitarist, Nadav Peled, handles the recording and mixing processes.

Perhaps an unlikely source to quote for this review but Baptist Preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, once said "Hope itself is like a star - not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only discovered in the night of adversity".  Shine on, Anbessa Orchestra.

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