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Ethiopiques Volume 02, Tètchawèt!


Originally wandering minstrels, sharp-tongued peddlers who roamed the old Abyssinian countryside, many azmaris more or less settled down after the founding of Addis-Ababa just over a century ago. The cleverest of them quickly understood that they should set up their own businesses and take a cut on the drinks, instead of getting by on tips earned singing their way from one bar and tedjbèt (taverns serving tedj, the local mead) to another. (…) They have taken over the city by giving rise to a musical genre specific to Addis, called Bolel (lit. car exhaust fumes), mixing Azmari traditions (praise or sarcasm at will, depending on the size of the tip) and modern urban culture.  Tètchawèt!, a sort of musical postcard from the Addis Ababa of the 90s, cannot of course pretend to capture all the strands of Ethiopia's contemporary music. And all the artists recorded here don't necessarily belong to the Azmari family.