Ethiopia revisited! Absinthe Music & Mental Groove Records unite to reveal one of Geneva’s best-kept secrets: Imperial Tiger Orchestra. While compilations of music of Ethiopian heritage are flooding the market, Imperial Tiger Orchestra offers a unique sound combining modern and traditional inspiration.
The Orchestra’s repertoire consists of revamped remakes of songs from the golden age of Ethiopian music: a powerful horn section, deadly percussions and relentless keyboards provide a merciless and efficient instrumental reinterpretation and improvisation based on original vocal songs. Preserving the natural beauty of melodies and Ethiopian sound while exploring uncharted territory, playing with textures and dynamics, adding distortions and noise to complete beautiful pieces, the self-proclaimed counterfeiters embrace dark hypnotic rhythms, obsessive basslines and grooves from electronic music. Far from any purist notions, the musicians surprise and delight with traditional ThaÃ¯ “phin” guitar mixed into traditional ethiopian “kebero” percussions. Just one example among many others. It’s groove experimentation, it’s improvisational heat.
The mini-album opens with an interpretation of “Djemeregne” by Muluqen Mellesse, merging electro sounds and live jam, followed by “Bati”, a traditional Ethiopian song recorded live in Addis. Dark atmosphere and powerful brass theme contrast with the sound of air phin, a traditional Thai guitar.
The b-side starts with a powerful live version of Emnet by Mulatu Astatke, which undulates between the energy of free jazz and traditional Ethiopian sounds. The record ends with a tribute to the unavoidable Mahmoud Ahmed, “Etu Gela” and its obsessive bassline and haunting rhythm.