In 2007 Union Square released, The Very Best of Ethiopiques, which distilled the 23 volumes of the original series that had been released in France down to a two disc compilation. It was probably the most remarkable music released in the UK that year, without a doubt. As revelations go this one was astonishing. It catalogued music that had been made in the dying days of Haile Sellasie I and the early days of the brutally repressive military junta; once again proving that creativity often seems to flourish in the harshest of conditions.
One of the stars of this compilation was the virtuoso vibes player Mulatu Astatké.
This is a man with a broad, deep history behind him; trained in London, New York and Boston, played with Duke Ellington and the man who fused the music of Ethiopia with Western jazz without anyone noticing the join. He's also worked with the wonderful Jim Jarmusch on Broken Flowers. So we're talking urbane, cultured, witty and well fucking cool.
As a result of Karen P's Broad Casting sessions, promoted at Cargo, London, back in April 2008, Astatké hooked up with The Heliocentrics, an other-worldly group of Sun Ra type British out there musical headcases who ooze beats and snakey charm music. The two sides of the pie had only a day to rehearse after which they took to the stage and destroyed all before them Thankfully it was recorded for the Red Bull Music Academy Radio and you can still hear it here.
As both parties had enjoyed the whole thing so much they went into the studio and cut this new album, Inspiration Information (available on Strut Records), in six days. DO YOU HEAR THAT COLDPLAY AND U2, YOU SAD TALENTLESS FUCKS!! In six days. No shit.
And it's heavenly.
There really isn't any point in me giving you a track by track breakdown. That would be akin to describing a small part of a Rothko painting or a sentence of Shakespeare. It doesn't work like that. Just buy the record, put it on and bathe in the smooth flow of fine melody as it flows through your body like "good" radiation. However if you somehow feel that this all smacks of muesli fusion then you can always go back to your Lady Gaga records. If you really need a couple of tracks recommending, to check out first, then buy Dewel or Live From Tigre Lounge.