Monday, December 17, 2007
The Ethiopian revolution of 1974 had one of two consequences for the country's musicians: play, against their will, in military bands, or flee for their lives. It was right around this time that Girma Beyene joined forces with the Wailas to produce one of the heaviest, most incendiary, guns-a-blazin' tracks of afro-funk ever.
Born in Addis Ababa, Girma Beyene started his career as a musician in high school and and had a long and fruitful career playing with other legendary Ethiopian bands like the Ghion Band, the Girmas Band, and the All Star Band. During the revolutions of '74, Beyene joined the Walias Band. It’s members included Hailu Mergia (organ), Moges Habte (sax), Yohannes Tekola (trumpet), Mahmoud Aman (guitar), Temare Harege (drums) and Girma Chibsa (percussion). It was with the Wailas that he composed "Musical Silt," a tune that has adorned the Ethiopian instrumental music scene for years and even remade by various U.S. bands including The Either Orchestra, The Daktaris, and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.
Menacing and monolithic, "Musical Silt" snarls and serpentines itself right out of the speakers, and it's certainly one of my favorites. (Please excuse the 6 or 7 second lead-in time at the beginning of the track.)