The music and history of Jamaica, Ethiopia and Israel come together on Anbessa Dub, an honest and mature release from Israeli group Zvuloon Dub System. After merging Jamaican and Israeli sounds together for years, the band has drawn on Ethiopia more and more as an influence in the recent past, courtesy of their Ethiopian singer Gili Yallo. On this release they fully embrace Ethiopian music, bringing the krar and maskino into their roots reggae and dub mix. The album also includes a number of guests, including legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed.
Anbessa Dub is direct and steady throughout its entirety. While Zvuloon Dub System have always managed to combine roots reggae and dub in a genuine way, this new direction is a welcome change. Their Ethiopian blend is so authentic, it’s hard to imagine the band won’t continue exploring this style. The inclusion of Mahmoud Ahmed shows how respected the group has become. His work on “Ney Denun Tieshe” is certainly one of the highlights on the record. His voice has lots of texture with plenty of bite and grit; a perfect vehicle for the band.
“Tenesh Kelbe Lay” offers a nice contrast to the recent cover of this famous track performed by Debo Band. On this slower rendition, the band sits back and lets Gili Yalo dwell on the chorus to great effect. Everything sounds neatly in place and natural, thanks in large part to the band’s commitment to recording everything in analog which adds a thick layer of warmth to each composition.
Yaacov Lilay sings and plays the krar on “Tsbukti Fetret,” which features one of the album’s most infectious grooves. The krar slips notes between syncopated electric guitar strums, giving the track a funky disposition. The krar returns, along with Dejen Manchelot’s maskino, on “Yene Almaz,” the most authentic cut on the record. For this closer, the band abandons their typical reggae style for a stripped-down Ethiopian sound that wraps up this set perfectly.
Fans of Ethiopian music and solid roots reggae will clamor over this release.