Will Hermes
November 21, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Zion Roots

Current Status
In Season
Abyssinia Infinite
Network Medien

We gave it an A-

Blame it on the new xenophobia, but lately ”world music” has an unfortunately low profile in the U.S. This haunting German import is a new project by Ethiopian expat Ejigayehu ”Gigi” Shibabaw, whose 2001 CD ”Gigi” — and its dub remix follow-up, ”Illuminated Audio” — contained some exceptionally forward-thinking international music. While they colored the hypnotic grooves of Ethiopian pop with unusual jazz voicings and electronics, this is a folksy, nearly unplugged affair, with Shibabaw’s trilling soul-queen phrases (sung mostly in Amharic) propelled by hand claps, hand drums, flute, sax, and kirar, a small traditional harp. But with cohort Bill Laswell coproducing, even rootsy arrangements have an otherworldly glow. MY ADDIS ABABA The 15-volume ”Ethiopiques” series is a consistently dazzling (and often very funky) history of Ethiopian pop.

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