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Boomkat Product Review:
Eagerly anticipated reissue of an Ethio jazz-and-funk cornerstone from keyboard whizz Hailu Mergia on Awesome Tapes From Africa. Unlike the last time, when we heard him solo on 'Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument', here on the highly sought-after 'Tche Belew', he's backed by The Walias, one of Ethiopia's crack units, who're perhaps best known for collaborating with Mulatu Astatke and backing for star Éthiopiques singer, Ahmed Mahmoud. The legendary Astatke also appears on this one, but Hailu is arguably the star of the show, sitting front and centre with silky smooth organ chops set to some of the dopest drum breaks that side of The Nile. At its core sits the devilishly heavy version of Ethiopian anthem, 'Musicawi Silt', mixing up traditional arrangement and Western breaks with the sort of deeply infectious, laidback funk that would bring all the cats to 'floor in Addis Ababa, whilst the rest serves as a plum showcase for Hailu's zipping vibraphone and the lithe jazz formations of The Walias, from the swaying title groove thru the breezy soul of 'Woghenei' and the nagging funk bounce of 'Eti Gual Blenai'. Ultimately, the version of 'Musicawi Silt' is worth thew admission alone, but the whole thing is really a crucial addition to your Ethiopiques and instrumental soul collections.