ALEMU AGA Ethiopiques 11: The Harp Of King David (Buda Musique) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Thus far, the stunning Ethiopiques series has aimed mainly at uncovering the rarely heard sample-ready grooves of swinging 60s and 70s Ethiopia. Volume 11 steers the project into entirely different territory. The music here is still largely unheard, but this time it's the 3,000-year-old Ethiopian harp that's the focus. More of an extended lute than a typical harp, the instrument strummed by Alèmu Aga is utterly hypnotic, droning softly while Aga murmurs ancient folk stories in the background. It's the kind of record that can change the mood of the room it's played in, and seems to slow time to a crawl that will make your head spin. Delightfully unsettling.