This is my micro depository for music that moves, art that excites, my photography and things that have influenced my tastes and inspired me to always keep looking and listening in the now and to keep searching and delving back in to the past.


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Japanese Poster: Between Song and Song. Yutaka Satoh. 2014

Here lies the boy…

Hailu Mergia and the Walias - Tche Belew

Brian Shimkovitz says:

So excited for the long-anticipated re-release of “Tche Belew,” Hailu Mergia and the Walias’ 1977 instrumental jazz and groove recording set against the backdrop of post-revolution Ethiopia. Following Mergia’s Shemonmuanaye/Classical Instrument reissue last year, the keyboardist and accordion player has been visiting stages across Europe and North America to much critical acclaim. “Tche Belew” was a groundbreaking recording and the LP became collectible for so many reasons but overall it is just an astounding merger of Ethiopian songs, elegant contemporary arrangements and “western” instrumentation. Completely sublime music from one of the seminal bands of a funk-laced era of Ethiojazz and soul.

The acclaimed and highly sought-after LP by Hailu Mergia and
the Walias, Tche Belew, an album of instrumentals released in
1977, is perhaps the most seminal recording released in the
aftermath of the 1974 revolution. The story of the Walias band is
a critical chapter in Ethiopian popular music, taking place during
a period of music industry flux and political complexity in the

Hailu Mergia, a keyboardist and arranger diligently working the
nightclub scene in Addis Ababa, formed the Walias in the early
1970’s with a core group of musicians assembled from prior
working bands. They played Mergia’s funk- and soul-informed
tunes, while cutting 45rpm singles with various vocalists.
While the Walias performed at top hotels and played the
presidential palace twice, their relationship with the Derg regime
was complex, evidenced by the removal of one song from the
record by government censors.

Decades later, Hailu Mergia was surprised to see the album
fetching more than $4,000 at online auctions (it helped that the
most popular of all Ethiopian tunes “Musicawi Silt” appeared on
the record). Now everyone has the chance to listen again—or
for the first time—to this timeless pillar of Ethiopian popular

Tche Belew is released on 9th October 2014 on the ever amazing Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Searching for Jagari

In 2010, my friend Nick and I traveled to Zambia looking for lost rock stars. It felt like a long shot. The country’s once-vibrant 1970s rock scene was long dead, the victim of economic collapse, geopolitical strife, and the AIDS epidemic. Most of the musicians were dead, too, many from AIDS. We knew, however, that the biggest name in Zambian rock ‘n’ roll, Emmanuel “Jagari” Chanda—Zambia’s Mick Jagger—was still alive. We just didn’t know where he was.

The search began in Lusaka, the easygoing, slightly ramshackle capital. We checked into a cheap government-run hotel, which was attached to a casino frequented by Chinese businessmen. After a small army of friendly desk clerks copied our passport details onto carbon-paper forms, we set out to follow our best lead.

Chris A. Smith searches for “the Mick Jagger of Zambia.” over on The Appendix.

Peak Oil

I was watching an interview with the cutting engineers at Manmade Mastering and at some point Tim Xavier said: “Sales will not kill vinyl. What will kill vinyl is the very few engineers left in the world who are able to repair the cutter heads.” It seems to say that when these retire it’s pretty much over. I also recalled that probably Rashad Becker had told me once that there are only two manufacturers left for the lacquer discs to which the audio is transferred (by cutting) and which are then processed to manufacture the pressing matrices. When these go bankrupt… you get the picture.

My first thought was rather diabolic: how much money would it take to get control over the entire vinyl market by monopolising one indispensable link in the chain? Start ups have successfully acquired seven-figure risk capital on lesser ideas. The one who controls access to the medium also controls cultural memory:  the archive, prospective entitlement to being memorized in the marble monuments erected by future generations. No self-respecting archive goes without paper, vinyl, celluloid or microfilm. Digital carriers just won’t last long enough. If you have saved data to CDrs a decade ago (like I used to do) you know what I’m talking about.

Stefan Goldmann talks vinyl in his September Berghain column.

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