Hailu Mergia - Yene Mircha Music Album Reviews

The Ethiopian cult musician returns with a collaborative full-band exploration that is no less hypnotic than his celebrated earlier work.

When Hailu Mergia left Ethiopia to tour America with the Walias Band in the 1980s, he decided to stick around. Moving to Washington D.C., he started a restaurant, managed a club, and formed The Zula band. Any of these ventures could swallow the energy of one person, but Mergia also rented a studio in order to reacquaint himself with the accordion, an instrument he played in his youth. What emerged from these sessions was Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument, a mesmerizing combination of drum machine and accordion improvisations. While the collection was an immediate hit in Ethiopia, it did not find an audience elsewhere, so Mergia quit music and started driving a cab, practicing his keyboard on his breaks. That was the end of the story until Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued the tape in 2013 to universal acclaim, and Mergia went on an international tour. It took time, but his devotion paid off.

Two years ago, Mergia put out his first album in almost two decades, Lala Belu. Joined by Mike Majkowski on upright bass and Tony Buck on drums, Mergia showed his hypnotic powers had only grown during his time outside the spotlight. On his latest, Yene Mircha (My Choice), Mergia leads a larger group of collaborators on an inward journey.

The flute-like rustle on the opening groove “Semen Ena Debub” comes from the masenqo, a bowed lute with one string, which merges nicely with Mergia’s accordion. They trade solos, creating a joyous waltz that breaks into a rousing jam toward the track’s end, and the effect is like emerging from an empty street into a friend’s home filled with familiar faces.

Throughout, Mergia shifts comfortably between the elegiac and the ecstatic. The Rhodes solo that opens “Yene Mircha” seems like preparation for a low-key jazz standard, yet it erupts into raucous horns and dreamy guitar licks. “Bayine Lay Yihedal,” a lucid vamp interspersed with spaced-out snare, provides a brief respite from this outpouring. Mergia’s discipline makes for a series of constrained fireworks—small eruptions that pass you by on a first listen but become unforgettable the next.

Mergia turns “Shemendefer,”a synth ballad by Ethopian pop artist Teddy Afro, into a low-octane burner, keeping only the chorus and surrounding it with light piano and organ and skating along its surface with his plaintive accordion solos. Elevated by his collaborators, Mergia displays the tenacious spirit you expect from a person who walked into a studio to practice the accordion and emerged with a masterpiece. Mergia's power to transfix seems to grow with the more collaborators he has, and their addition does not detract from his resolute sound. The onetime lone wanderer now leads newfound followers up a trail he cut for himself.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Hailu Mergia - Yene Mircha Music Album Reviews Hailu Mergia - Yene Mircha Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 08, 2020 Rating: 5


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