The latest from Sublime Frequencies is a massive cd/dvd/book set, compiled by photographer/filmmaker Olivia Wyatt on a recent trip to Ethiopia
, planned to coincide with a music festival - which the government abruptly cancelled for fear of the musicians being exploited. So instead, Wyatt travelled into the bush, to compile this sonic/visual travelogue of the music and musicians, the people and places of the various tribes of Ethiopia, and it's of course breathtaking. The music, heady and hypnotic, joyous and emotional, the sounds varying dramatically from tribe to tribe, but music being ubiquitous, weddings, ceremonies, rituals, drawing water from the well, on television, in living rooms, very rhythmic, mostly vocal drive, but with lots of hand clapping, wildly bowed stringed instruments, vocals chanted, shouted, call and response, super mesmerizing, many of the tribes utilize whistles and panpipes, and the music they make is incredible, otherworldly and impossibly lush, sounding like some modern 20th century classical composition in many cases, while actual bands to rock out, and get surprisingly soulful and funky. A compilation like this must have been so impossible to compile, how on earth to whittle down what must have ben days of recordings to just an hour, but the tracks chosen are amazing, and make us want to hear so much more.
Both the cd and the dvd (more on the dvd in a second) are housed in a cd sized hard cover book, which includes extensive liner notes on Wyatt's trip to Ethiopia, but also 117 Polaroid photos Wyatt took on her trip, of people, places, musicians, villages, an incredible visual feast for the eyes. And then there's the dvd, which features a 60 minute film, which in its won way is structured like the video version of Wyatt's Polaroids, with many still shots, video portraits, as well as some incredible footage, some highlights include so many different lots of singing and dancing, sometimes in traditional tribal dress, often in western t-shirts and shorts, one of the most amazing sequences if of men and women working drawing water from a well, passing buckets from person to person, their worksongs so hypnotic and beautiful, then there's a super wild psychedelic guitar freakout with one woman doing some of the craziest, most ecstatic hair swirling / headbanging we've ever seen, there's footage of men feeding wild hyenas in the middle of the night, often right out of their own mouths, snippets from Ethiopian television with wild MTV style videos, fantastic tribal folks songs with synchronized dances and lots of whistles, dancing girls making music with just the clank and jangle of her jewelry, in fact lots of dances that involve the jangle of jewelry, men smoking in dark rooms watching television, intimate performances in living rooms and so much more.
So incredible, sonically, visually, culturally, easily one of our favorite Sublime Frequencies releases for sure.