Showcasing an inclusive approach - proving that musical
peace is at least a reality in the Middle East - Israel’s Zvuloon Dub System
combines Jamaican and Ethiopian influences to produce a potent and timeless album. The vocals, sung in Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage, come from lead singer Yalo as well as several guests, while the rest of the band bring a clear and confident knowledge of classic roots reggae.
From the opening bars of the instrumental “Alemitu,” it is obvious that this album has been lovingly crafted, with a strong sense of purpose and respect. After a slow lead-in with horns triumphant, the groove arrives alongside a dynamic keyboard solo. On “Tenesh Kelbe Lay,” another nice rhythm provides the platform for the intoxicating vocals. Hypnotic, yet far more dance than drone, this shows influences of the dub tradition rather than being true dub from an engineering perspective.
“Sab Sam” is a catchy track, sounding similar to some of the more triumphant work of Amadou & Mariam in structure and vocal styling. From there, “Man Begelagelgni” chills things out a bit, allowing a nice walking bass line to shine through before “Ney Denun Tieshe,” which features the wonderfully wavering guest vocals of legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed amidst more tight horn lines. Then “Yehoden Aweteche Lengeresh,” bearing some influence from Zap Pow’s “Last War” riddim, returns the album firmly to the Jamaican fold.
“Tsbukti Fetret” includes an elegant East African melody on the krar, a traditional instrument that appears on several other tracks as well, while a solid skanking guitar propels the rhythm. Hinting more at rocksteady than reggae, “Endemenesh” - with Zemene Melesse on mic duties - leads into the funky and upbeat “Zelel Zelel” splendidly, before the sparse and almost melancholy “Yene Almaz” closes out the album. Here it’s the masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, that harkens back to the Ethiopian musical tradition.
Through and through, this is world music in the most transcendent and intriguing of ways. An impressive work of musical fusion, Anbessa Dub
is spirited and spiritual: