SINCE THE DEVIL IS GONE I MOSTLY FEEL LONELY is an ongoing series of folk music concerts brought to you by Festsaal Kreuzberg and Monarch Berlin – this time with Hailu Mergia from Ethiopia.
In 1985, master accordionist and veteran bandleader, arranger and keyboardist Hailu Mergia released the Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument cassette.
In a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth, Hailu gave Ethiopian music a sonic makeover. He was already celebrated for his work with the groundbreaking Addis Ababa ethio-jazz and funk outfit Walias Band.
Hailu Mergia | Tizita
With imagination and a visionary sense of the self-contained possibilities of modern music, he captured the popular sounds of the past using the modern tools of the day.
Hailu Mergia weaves Moog DX7 synthesizer, Rhodes electric piano and rhythm machine into the rich harmonic layering of his accordion, creating hauntingly psychedelic, elegantly arranged instrumentals.
Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band
These tunes draw from famous traditional and modern Ethiopian songs, as Hailu brilliantly matches lush Amhara, Tigrinya and Oromo melodies with otherworldly flavors soaked in jazz and blues, synthesizing a futuristic landscape. He balances Ethiopian music’s signature melodic shape with beautiful analog synth touches, floating upon clouds of hypnotically minimal rhythm tracks.
The reissue of this recording brings back a moment when Ethiopian music was shifting from acoustic-based performances to recordings using more and more synthesized elements. While the results of that shift have their critics Hailu Mergia’s initial experiments with solo instrumental music based on Ethiopian folk and popular music captures a singular feeling dripping in ambiance and very human emotional energy.
Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band | Tche Belew
Hailu Mergia’s beautiful and surprising 1985 foray into traditional Ethiopian songs via analog synth, electric piano and accordion has been remastered and is available since June 25th 2013 through Awesome Tapes From Africa.
Now, Hailu Mergia takes his music to European club and festival stages for the very first time. On the road, the Hailu will be backed by Berlin-based Australians Tony Buck (drums) – widely celebrated for his work with the long-running Necks – and Mike Majkowski (bass), who has gained praise for his imaginative solo performances and sideman work for Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink.
Hailu Mergia | Hari Meru Meru
“If Cluster had been from Ethiopia instead of Germany, this is probably about what they would have sounded like.” (Pitchfork Media)
This event is highly recommended by Digital in Berlin! We are giving away 2 x 1 tickets. Just send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Hailu Mergia” as the subject.
“Since the devil is gone I mostly feel lonely”
w/ Hailu Mergia | LIVE
presented by Festsaal & D/B
Monday, 02 December 2013 | 20:00 CET
Monarch | Skalitzer Str. 134 | 10999 Berlin/Kreuzberg