Boomkat Product Review:
Viiiiiibes for eons on this one: Strut rightly give new life to Mulatu Astatke’s debut. Deadly cool blend of wavy Ethio melody and achingly tight US funk and soul grooves on this reissue of his eponymous debut LP which has become increasingly out of reach on the 2nd hand market.
You probably know Astatke from the signature, smoke-curl licks of his many seminal inclusions to the Ethiopiques compilation series, or perhaps you were even lucky enough to be aware of him before then, due to his reputation as one of the most influential and respected musicians from Ethiopia for nearly half a century.
With the recording funded by Ethiopian Airways, Mulatu Of Ethiopia distinctly differs from Astatke's later work because it was recorded in Brooklyn, America, 1972 and it’s easy to hear the strong influence of the styles that would have surrounded him at the time, in that place. Instead of the elegant, percolated sway of Ethiopian rhythms proper, Astatke plays against super slick grooves in all seven parts, seamlessly applying filigree Ethio-Jazz flourishes on vibraphone, keyboards and organs in an imitable, syncretic fusion of Afro-Latin-Jazz.
Mulatu just oozes smoky cool, whilst the snaking bass and floating lounge melodies of Mascaram Setaba are to die for, and Dewel allows X amount of intoxicating, spiritual freedom into the arrangement, and Kasalefkut-Hulu melds the baddest 16th note shuffle breaks and woozy horns beside the dancefloor section of Munaye and then you get that head-melting lick at the start of Chifara…
This is one worth getting really excited over. All killer, no filler. Just vibes.