Saturday, May 07, 2005

Your Love Made Me An Infidel

As Terri Ex (of politcal noise-niks The Ex and Terp Records) was recently assisting in the hunt of new material for the ongoing Ethiopiques series, the name Tsehaytu Beraki kept coming up during his musical hunt. After some investigating, it was determined she was an enormously popular performer who was forced to flee from the dangerous unrest of Eritrea, seeking asylum in Rotterdam, which is where she was eventually found living peacefully in exile. From there, an idea was hatched to release a cd of her songs but, sadly, very little of Beraki's music has actually been made available--despite decades of performing. So, recording time was booked, a few musical guests were hired to tastefully fill out the admittedly sparse sounds and the 2-cd set Selam was born. Beraki's weathered and soulful vocals glide over the rhythmic strumming of a krar (and occasionally a bass krar), a droning stringed instrument which looks like a harp but sounds somewhat like a zither. Many of the songs are centered on love, many more on loss and suffering. This is powerful stuff but not for the faint of heart--the average song clocks in at the 11-minute mark. In the interest of saving my server space, I'm offering Lale Bola, one of the few songs timed at 5 minutes (the headline above is a line translated from the lyrics). I bought my copy of this wonderful cd at the always-reliable Aquarius Records.

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