Stinky Grooves 22.11.11 + going to Mulatu?? You should be !!!


Alemiye – Mulatu Astatke Feat Belaynesh Wubante and Assegedetch Asfaw (World Psych Funk Classics)
Emnete – Mulatu Astatke (Strut)
Tezeta – Mulatu Astatke (Strut)
Netsanet – Mulatu Astatke (Strut)
Santa Maria (Chancha Via Circuito Rmx) – Gotan Project (Ya Basta)
Phi (Denima Goes Cumbia Rmx) – den5hion
Una Musica Brutal (El Hijo De La Cumbia Rmx) – Gotan Project (Ya Basta)
Vuelvo Al Sur (El Remolon Rmx) – Gotan Project (Ya Basta)
El Dembow Amazonico – DJ Chakruna
Shadows On Behalf – The Stepkids (Stones Throw)
Brain Ninja – The Stepkids (Stones Throw)
Angels Of Sin – Charlotte Walters (Pathe Marconi EMI)
Pour La Gloire – Anni Philippe (Philips)
Le Coeur Qui Jazze – France Gall (ULM)
Dub It Over – Little Barrie (Tummy Touch)
Cook, Clean, Pay The Rent (New House Version) – Teebs (Brainfeeder)
Can’t Stop The Prophet – Falty DL (Ninja Tune)
The Anthem (Flume Rmx) – Onra (soundcloud)
Retarded Fren – DOOM ft Thom Yorke & Jonny Greenwood (Lex)
DOOM (Supervillain Theme/Fazers/Vomitspit) – BADBADNOTGOOD
Kenimania – Monomono (Tummy Touch)
Respect Of The Rules – DRC Music ft. Loi X Liberal (Warp)
Hallo – DRC Music ft Tout Puissant Mukalo and Nelly Liyemge (Warp)
Departure – DRC Music ft Bokatola System (Warp)
Just The Yellow Bits – Teebs (Brainfeeder)
Moaning And Groaning – Little Axe (On-U Sound)
Call It What You Like – Little Axe (On-U Sound)
The Model – Balanescu Quartet (Mute)
We Belong To The Cosmos – Superspirit
Tonight – Canyons ft Kevin Parker (Modular)
See Blind Through (DJ Harvey Rmx) – Canyons (Modular)
Tales From A Nomad (Frisvold & Linbaek Rmx) – Kohib (Beatservice)
Drumforms – Django Django (bandcamp)
Tezeta – Menelik Wossenachew with Mulatu Astatke & The All Star Band (Amha)
Mulatu – Mulatu Astatke (Strut)
Yekatit – Mulatu Astatke (Strut)
Cha Cha – Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics (Strut)
Voodoo – Tubby Hayes (Trunk)
White Godess – Frank Hunter (Kapp)
Believe – CANT (Warp)
Get Up – Kwes
Slinky Dub – Zook (Tummy Touch)
Autobahn – Balanescu Quartet (Mute)
Seashell – Skylab (L’Attitude)

Still short of a blather and a track but not short of something to say and a stinklink or two. It’s pretty simple…miss MULATU ASTATKE & THE BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE this Friday at the Powerstation at your own peril, this is not one to sleep on!! Seriously !! We nipped over to Oz last year to check out the first gig of this total legend and his fine Melbournian cohorts and it was mindblowing…. you can read about that here.. That cost a fair whack with airfares and all the rest, its less than 70 bucks here so think of the $$ you’re saving.
If you need more convincing there’s an exclusive stinkincterview with man himself here

DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS GIG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mulatu in Melbourne with The Black Jesus Experience- a few words


You would think by now that I would have learned that I shouldn’t promise anything on the blog, yet I keep doing it in some vague hope that it will make more least to myself. So I did promise a review of the Mulatu’s Australian appearances, and I’ve given it a fair bit of thought (not really too much of a fan of reading or writing live reviews for various reasons) without any concrete action.
There are very few living artists I can think of who would tempt me across the Tasman these days, aside from RTM gigs I have been getting pickier and pickier overall, and that suits me just fine. However when Mulatu told me he was going to be playing at the Melbourne Jazz Festival while interviewing him for this very blog last year, rational thought went out the window. After establishing that getting him over this way wasn’t looking likely, it was a simple stumble through plane tickets and alerting fellow Mulatee’s in Melbourne to the ticket release etc.
When a bonus performance in Fed Square was announced a few weeks for the Saturday afternoon, well things just kept getting better and better. That three song workout was sublime, though noticeably a touch nervier and less assured than Monday night’s full set. The Black Jesus Experience became just the third international band band to get Mulatu’s seal of approval (alongside The Heliocentrics and Boston’s Either/Orchestra) to back him, after he checked them touring Ethiopia last year, and actually asked them, to do him the favour of playing his music. With three months of practice (it’s all about the threes innit, he played three shows in Melbourne..spooky) and the assistance and direction of the Heliocentrics multi-instrumentalist James Arbon they, they were comfortably tight, on the Saturday and fully blistering on the sold out Monday night show (with an extra performance tucked in for those that were beaten by the uptake for the original appointment).


My insurmountable enthusiasm about not missing out on this show meant that we actually ended up with front row tickets pretty much right in front of Mualtu. Usually I’m not keen on the first few rows, the sound is rarely at its best, the view can often be similarly restricted and there’s a ton of other reasons it’s best left to rabid devotees and those who want to be close. In this case the sound was absolutely fine, and the experience of being so close to the action and being able to see musicians expressions and the minutiae was absorbing. Hearing Mulatu hum as he played the vibes, or seeing him slightly sticking his tongue out on the tricky bits was priceless, so were the occasional looks and chats exchanged by the band members as they nailed it time and time again.
RRR’s DJ Johnathan Alley kicked the night off with a relaxed set of vital roots, afro gear and whatnot before The Black Jesus Experience opened up with a brace of their own songs, including vocals from Enushu Taye and MC one sixth. When Mulatu appeared, made a beautiful humble introduction and they all launched into Dewel with it’s slithering horn lines and resoundingly funky rhythm, well lets just say that special doesn’t begin to cover it. For what must have been the best part of regulation time with no stoppages, they fired through a set that took in material from Mulatu’s recent recordings (Cha Cha, Chik Chika) his New York period (Dewel in a version that I preferred to his take with the Heliocentrics, and the song he introduced so touchingly – Mulatu) and that classic Golden Age business (the rest).
Mulatu predominantly veered between the vibes and his trusty snares, with just one song at the keyboard and a blinding conga solo that justifiably drew much appreciation. His mana and charisma were well evident throughout, and it was a privilege to see him smiling to himself, playing away obviously getting a huge charge from hearing his music being played so passionately in this furtherest of spots. Picking members of The Black Jesus Experience out for special mention would be cruel as every single player was on the money, with no overplaying or superfluous fluff throughout. It was pure quality seeing how well James Arbon fitted in and vice versa, and if the rumours of a rematch later this year prove founded then I think we must ensure at least one New Zealand date.
There’s a great interview here on the ABC site here, which I can’t embed but does include footage from the Federation Square gig too. This is well worth watching. There’s a video of them rehearsing at The Horn (where you can eat Ethio nosh and check The Black Jesus Experience weekly) also from the ABC (bless ’em) here.
Setlist and players below. Props to the Melbourne Jazz Festival for making this happen and doing it right, and Peter Harper from The Black Jesus Experience for the info, set lists, and some righteous saxophone and whatnot. The shots from the venue are from The Black Jesus Experience myspace, please do check them out and friend ’em up.


Alto Peter Harper,
Trumpet Ian Dixon,
Drums Pat Kearney,
Bass CassaWarrior,
Percussion Souren Chakerian,
Keys Thai Matus,
Guitar Nash Lee,
Tenor etc James Arbon (Heliocentrics)
Vibes, Keys, Percussion Mulatu Astatke


1: BB
2: The Sun, The Moon, The Truth
—-Mulatu introduced —
3: Dewell
4: Yekermo Sew
5: Mulatu
6: Cha Cha
7: Netsanet
8: Chik Chikka
9: Yegelle Tezeta
10: Yekatit (Encore).

The three albums below are all readily available though Strut (Border locally) they are all essential, get to it.



Mulatu Astatke Interview – Exclusively for StinkInc


“Lets talk fast because it can disconnect with these phones.”
The first words from Mulatu Astatke, the 66 year old don of Ethiojazz, prove to be sadly prophetic. Perhaps a bit of prophecy is appropriate for a man who is talking, on some very iffy phone lines, from the cradle of civilization, Ethiopia. The last few years have seen a massive jump in greater public awareness of Mulatu’s music with Jim Jarmusch’s extensive use in the ‘Broken Flowers’ OST, readily available vinyl and the continued celebration of his ‘Volume 4’ of the Ethiopiques CD series getting long overdue credit and sales. However 2009 has been a veritable bonanza for Astatke – a show with Malcolm Catto’s frequently stunning outfit The Heliocentrics last year evolved into a 10 day recording session that yielded the ‘Inspiration Information’ album, and Strut finally managed to do what Soundway had attempted a couple of years ago, and released a quality retrospective – ‘New York- London- Addis The Story Of Ethiojazz 1965-75’ (though Soundway gaffer Miles Cleret did write the sleevnotes).


My first encounter with Mulatu was on a tape from 80’s (possibly emanating from the Small Town Thunderers/Jackdaw With Crowbar axis) though at the time I didn’t know who it was because it was simply called ‘Ethiopian track’, or something similarly generic. It was a solitary clue that there was something different there to all the African music I had heard. That was followed by a few, probably slurred, enquiries on late night taxi rides over the years and locales with Ethiopian drivers about what on earth they were playing, leaving hazy memories of some great tunes but not many names the next morning, that problem remains.


The next proper connection was made when I guested on the Hotpot Radio show with my pal, the venerable Trevor Whatevea, and his co-pilot Mnsr Scruff in Manchester in 2003. Scruff had the Worthy Records, ‘Mulatu Of Ethiopia’ album (surprise, surprise…he has just about everything) and played a track, on one of the several shows they were recording that day. My interest was severely piqued, thinking this sounds like that track I used to have on tape, and sure enough there was ‘Netsanet’, the very song that had hooked and absorbed me a decade or two previous.
That day looked a bit like this.


A fruitless and frustrating search for the vinyl in the record shops of Manchester, Birmingham and London followed, before I discovered it in the unlikeliest of locales on my way back to NZ at the house mecca, Dancetracks in the glorious old L.E.S. of Manhattan. I’m pretty sure it’s the re-issue, but even they were scarce on the ground then. One of only a fistful of doof-free discs in that entire legendary shop, I was made up, and naturally it lit a fire underneath my proverbial record searching ass – for Mulatu and more music and knowledge about Ethiopia, which continues to this day.
I had tried to make contact for an interview with Mulatu a few years ago, and put my hand up when the Heliocentrics album dropped (even though I was initially a tad disappointed by that one, possibly down to unreachable expectations of that pairing) but this time the circuits connected, and a time and date was set. I’ve been on the interviewing game for some time now, and like DJing, it takes something fairly monumental to get me clammy handed. Talking to Mulatu ranked up there.
With a monstrous delay, and sufficient crackle to make the next Burial album, as an obstacle to free conversation, plus enough failed connections to require a bionic dialing finger, the Ethiopian telephone service did its’ level best to not let this happen. We both persevered and got very frustrated by that along the way, but there was actually a lot more salvageable dialogue than I first thought. Below is the un-edited conversation, his words are exactly as he said ’em, and I understood ’em, only minus a couple of bits that were impossible to decipher above the tele-noise. There may well be a part 2 to this, and soon, but for the meantime read on.
I began by thanking him for his music, like the groveling fanboy I truly am.
“You get the last one, the compilation records?”
Indeed I have and I think it may be the one to introduce a lot more people to your music
“I think so too, I’m very happy. Which music are you thanking me for
Well all of it really, though I can’t go beyond the Golden Era classic Ethiojazz stuff, like the the Budha comp and L’Arome Productions vinyl albums, and of course the re-issued Worthy album. (I think I may have struck a nerve here by not simply bigging up the recent releases, not an ideal start, he sounded kind of understandably potentially grumpy at this point)

“Well I don’t follow that very much seriously. I have only recordings on the Ethiopiques, number 4, that’s my collection but the rest I don’t know very much about that. Budha records are producing those music, and I don’t follow the other ones”

Righto. Having lived through the Emperor Selassie’s reign and a brace of successive dictatorships with martial law and all the rest, I wonder how much of a presence his music currently has in Ethiopia media?

“I’m a prominent composer, arranger and I had radio programmes I also had before, a television programme, I wrote for a play, I’m in different… you know bands, I release CDs and I travel.”

Why is Ethiojazz, and in fact most Ethio music, so different to other African forms, is it just the isolation?

Well now with Ethiojazz it has been 40 years I have been creating it you know. Why its different, why we are different to most is we have one mode which is called Anche Hoye, which is not found in any other part of the world at all. And also we use five tones to compose our music, five tone scales. What I did was I use also twelve tone music, so this is five tone against twelve, that’s how Ethiojazz is. The area I’m talking about is when you have three or four cultures, trying to put them together you really have to be very careful that one doesn’t dominate another one, and you must have a feel. My feel is Ethiopian mode, Ethiopian scales. So what I did was, I combined with twelve tone but I have to collect my own progressions, I sort of like have to create my own voicings, so that it doesn’t really disappear the Ethiopian modes at all. So you know it’s been very interesting but hard work, but now it’s very big in the world.”

How was working with the Heliocentrics, obviously you have been working with Either/Orchestra in Boston for some time, was this a considerably different bag?

“Well you know it’s just what I’ve been doing, that’s actually just Ethiojazz music, what we’ve been doing now together but its only the orchestration is a bit different. We use more electronic now, I use a lot of acoustic before, but it sounded really nice. I think it’s a beautiful combination, and actually when am I doing the arrangement for different bands I do it different ways. When I do the Heliocentrics now we are really very much together. I write so it could suit the Heliocentrics.”

Is your project adapting traditional, pentatonic Ethiopian instruments to play the twelve tone scale ongoing?

“Yes that’s a very interesting project, which I’ve actually got about 70% now, because you know, I’ve been touring, I’ve been doing something else so I just let it go for awhile. We managed to play ‘Mercy Mercy’, ‘Never On A Sunday’, you know ‘Summertime’, those kinds of things, playing with a krar, which is so interesting I tell you. It was on the television and the people loved it and it was really great.”
A krar


You really are changing music by doing this.

“I’m trying my best my friend. And also there is one very interesting thing, actually its going to come out on my new CD (Mulatu Steps Ahead). I’m going to London next week, to complete my new CD you know. You see there is this tribe in the south of Ethiopia we call them Dirashe . This tribe they play a diminished scale, my friend. So they’ve been there for centuries and centuries. What I did was I bought them up to the city, to Addis, and I filled it with jazz and made a beautiful programme on television. So this has been so interesting, its going to come out on my new CD you know, and I’ve been doing that, and also I have done an opera. Very interesting opera , written when I was at Harvard. Its about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the whole story is about a conducting stick. We used to conduct music in 380AD, it’s centuries ago, when there was no symphony orchestra in the world. So the whole idea is Ethiopian contribution to the development of the whole of music. So I used this stick, I took about forty or fifty minutes from the part where we used the conducting stick, with violins and cellos and everything, and the choirs as well, and that has been conducted with that stick which makes it so interesting. So I’m trying to finish my opera as well now.”

There was more here, but the Ethio telco was doing me no favours, I understand there is also an electronic component to the opera, and he has already presented a portion of it at Harvard. I did know enough to offer another slightly informed question when we had stopped yelling ‘Hellooooo’ at each other (I think I may have some Ethiopian cussing on tape, there was certainly a bit of blue from yours truly, as I ran through the best part of ten calls getting connected, and then having one side go down immediately… somewhat frustrating)
Is this the Yared Opera that you plan to perform in the Lalibela churches (said with some very hesitant, but apparently correct pronounciation, just don’t start me on some on the names of some of those singers!)

“Yeeeeesss, exactly, that’s what I’m really working to put it on at a Lalibela church. You know about them?”

(As seen above the churches in the sacred city of Lalibela are literally hewn from the rock, rather than rock being broken down for construction, the rock is removed to reveal the structure. This is some architecturally awesome, devotional digging and stonemasonry on a stupefying level.)
A little, with buildings made entirely of stone the acoustics would be unlike anywhere else it would be incredible?

“I know, I know it will be something beautiful because the architects work on that is so interesting, and if we also show the mekwamia there – what you call this, the conducting mekwemia, that’s really an Ethiopian contribution to the world. The architects of the conducting.”

Saint Yared’s foot stabbing incident (hit the Yared link below for the scoop on that!)


I’m not entirely sure whether he means, the architects of the incredible churches in the sacred city of Lalibela, or as the architects as in modern music (in particular Saint Yared, who is believed to have been the first to write musical notes, centuries ahead of Western civilisation, and a great deal more. Don’t start me on the rasta/reggae links here, I’m stopping myself from rambling on about everything from Bob’s ‘Three Little Birds’ to Prince Fari’s chants), as he references at the end. Never mind, he’s on a roll.

“Especially the Dirashe is so interesting. When we studied jazz at Berkeley, they were telling us how Charlie Parker created the diminished key to create modern jazz, and the great composers Debussy, Bach and all this, been using a diminished scale for composing you know. So what is really very interesting is this tribe have been there for centuries and centuries, so what I wanted to know is, is it Charlie Parker? or is it these tribes, or who? what? Creating the diminished scale, so that is one thing I am working on in the future, answering that.”
And then the line went dead, time was well past done, boohoo sob sob.

You can buy the new Strut compilation and much more Mulatu from Conch


I hope I haven’t taken liberties in writing this up, the line was wack and the connection was weak, the delay was insufferable.. transcribing was no barrel of laughs. The name of the tribe he refers to, and the YouTube clips are of, is an informed guess, as I cannot find a direct reference to them and their diminished chords online. I’m no expert on this stuff but I have learnt a little about Ethiopia over time, researching for the interview and this post has increased that and led me down some interesting web wormholes (it’s also prepped me for round 2). Hope you enjoy it, and buy that crucial compile etc.
Big thanks to Marty @ Border.