Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye album cover
Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye

Hailu Mergia

Awesome Tapes From Africa

In Ethiopia Hailu Mergia had spent years playing in Addis’ high class Hilton Hotel with his ethio-jazz and funk band The Walias, but in the early 1980s he moved to the United States in the face of a changing political climate at home. Here he decided to record an album celebrating the vintage accordion sounds of his youth, but upon entering the studio he discovered a drum machine, a Rhodes piano, and a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, which he decided to play alongside his accordion. The resulting album is a dreamy, quietly hypnotic synthesis of Ethiopian melodies, jazz, and minimalistic touches of analog synth. At once evocative, traditional, and futuristic. 

Megan Iacobini de Fazio

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