Here’s what the Sub Pop Megamart has from our friend label Next Ambiance.
Debo Band is an 11-member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Since their inception in 2006, the band have toured Ethiopia twice, having appeared at both the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa and Sauti Za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa. In North America, they’ve shared stages with Gogol Bordello, The Family Stone, Tilahun Gessesse (one of the great voices of Ethiopian pop since the ‘60s), The Ex with Ethiopian sax legend Getatchew Mekuria, Group Doueh, and Khaira Arby and Her Band. They’ve also performed at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Fest, globalFEST 2012 at Webster Hall, Joe’s Pub, and World Music Festival: Chicago.
“What’s amazing about Debo Band is that they play that music (Ethiopian pop) without any sort of… precious reverence… They play it like it’s NOW, as music of right now, and they play it with incredible energy and passion and excellence. And it just totally rocks. It’s amazing.”—All Songs Considered, NPR
“A different archival impulse paid off for Debo Band, a Boston group devoted to the Ethiopian funk of the late 1960s and ’70s: fierce, jagged, complex and galvanizing music. With a beefy horn section, biting violins and a lead singer with a convincing Ethiopian quaver, the group brought back a live version of a style that was never recorded as vividly.”—The New York Times
“The Boston-based band Debo Band gives the psychedelic music heard on the Ethiopiques collections a high-spirited revamp.”—Village Voice
“If George Clinton had come from Ethiopia instead of outer space, the result might have been what Debo Band gives you.”—Boston Globe
Released: July 10, 2012
Born in the tiny coastal hamlet of Plaplaya on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, Aurelio Martinez, 39, may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition. These traditions encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots of his ancestors, a group of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late eighteenth century.
At the heart of every song on Laru Beya beats a traditional Garifuna rhythm. However, beyond the beauties of Garifuna tradition and Aurelio’s striking interpretations lie the true guiding force behind the album: the loss of his late friend and mentor, Garifuna musical icon, Andy Palacio. Palacio, won regional popularity as the powerhouse behind punta rock, a Garifuna-rock synthesis that broke onto the Central American scene in the 1990s. International acclaim followed with an award-winning album in 2007 that truly put Garifuna music on the map.
A mere month after Andy’s death, Aurelio and producer Ivan Duran headed for a small fishing village, where they set up a studio in a beachfront house. Recording and living by the sea for several weeks, they were still in grief and shock, yet they knew they had to do something amazing to honor Palacio’s life and work. Aurelio was able to explore the Garifuna connection to Africa when Senegalese Afropop legend Youssou N’Dour selected him as his protege in 2008. N’Dour encouraged Martinez to channel his virtuosity, to balance his evanescent stage presence with reserve until just the right moment. N’Dour also contributed his unique vocal abilities to several songs on Laru Beya.
The album is the second release on Next Ambiance, an imprint founded by Jon Kertzer host of KEXP’s Best Ambiance radio show and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman. The label’s first release was I Speak Fula (Feb. 2010) by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba. I Speak Fula was also recently nominated for a Grammy award for “Best Traditional World Music Album.” SPIN: “I Speak Fula effortlessly mixes the rapid-fire pluck of bluegrass, the doleful churn of the blues, the joyous pulse of Afropop, and (in a makeover from his gentler 2007 debut) the caffeinated whirl of high-velocity rock.” Laru Beya is not only Next Ambiance’s second release, but Aurelio’s as well. Garifuna Soul, his 2005 album on Stonetree Records, was described by Songlines Magazine with, “It really is like nothing you’ve ever heard before.”
Released: January 18, 2011
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba / I Speak Fula (vinyl) - 4000499
Initial pressing of I Speak Fula on Outhere Records. Featuring different cover art than the Sub Pop/Next Ambiance release of the same record.
For the CD and MP3 version go here.
Released: February 10, 2010
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba / I Speak Fula - SBL-72001
Malian maestro Bassekou Kouyate is a virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music. Bassekou’s instrument, the ngoni, is a “spike lute” and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques. Since 2005, Bassekou has led Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis—-all played by members of his family.
Bassekou’s longtime friend and booster Lucy Duran (a BBC radio host, record producer, and Mande music scholar) produced the band’s debut, Segu Blue. Before long, Bassekou and Ngoni Ba were touring Europe and in high demand. I Speak Fula builds on the success of Segu Blue. Its 11 tracks provide a star-studded tour of pan-Malian music, including collaborations with Toumani Diabaté, griot vocal legend Kasse Mady Diabaté, master of the horse-hair soku fiddle Zoumana Tereta, and guitar phenomenon Vieux Farka Toure, Ali’s precociously talented son. The release of I Speak Fula and Ngoni Ba’s first U.S. tour mark the latest leg of an extraordinary musical journey.
I Speak Fula is the first release on Next Ambiance, a new label founded by Jon Kertzer host of KEXP’s Best Ambiance Radio show and Sub Pop co-founder Jon Poneman, and the newest addition to the Sub Pop family. Next Ambiance continues the musical exploration of Best Ambiance, with an emphasis on mind-blowing and life-changing artists with no particular regional or cultural bias.
“Contender for African album of the year.” (5 stars) Uncut
“This is a cracker.” (4 stars) Mojo
“Spectacular.” BBC online
“Truly irresistible.” Music Week
“Fizzes with energy.” (4 stars) Observer Music Monthly
“There’s unlikely to be a better African album this year.” (5 stars) Evening Standard
“Ferociously powerful album … Superb.” The Independent (Album of the Week)
“Soon the world will speak Fula.” Metro
If you like vinyl and want this record on vinyl, go here.
Released: 2010-02-02 (CD), 2010-02-16 (MP3s)