In these days we are fulfilling a dream: we are about to finish recording our new album, Anbessa Dub.
‘Anbessa Dub’ is an innovative project produced by Zvuloon Dub System that links the threads of diverse lands, languages and cultures to weave a novel original sound in the world of music.
The project is the realization of the band members’ ethos of "ONE WORLD, ONE LOVE, ONE MUSIC” accomplished by blending elements of Roots Reggae with scales, rhythms and languages of Ethiopian music. The word Anbessa translates to ‘lion’ in Ethiopian Amharic.
The Rastafarians that invented reggae saw Ethiopia as the Promised Land, and considered its Emperor Haile Selassie I to be the incarnation of God on Earth. Jamaican Rastafarians are descendants of slaves that were taken from Africa from the 17th century on. They see an analogy between the story of the Israelites and the one of the Africans that were enslaved and deported away from their motherland. The thousands of reggae songs that were written in the last 60 years are a crystallization of the intention of the Rastafarians’ longing for the day of their return to their motherland Africa as a free people. Ethiopia in particular represents the grounds upon which African struggle and resistance against European colonization unfolded.
Rastafarians were therefore very deeply influenced by the idea of the Ethiopian myth and from the figure of Haile Selassie; nevertheless, their actual knowledge of Ethiopian customs, music and languages was limited in scope.
The new Zvuloon Dub System project blends roots reggae within the context of the unique vibration of Ethiopian culture. The project offers fresh versions of famous songs from the golden age of modern Ethiopian music together with original songs written by the members of the band. The project features several artists from the ‘Beta Israel’ community (the Jewish Ethiopian community that immigrated to Israel during the 80’s and the 90’s) playing the music they grew up with, in their mother tongue. The collaboration of these artists with the members of Zvuloon Dub System creates a new style of music which is neither “Ethiopian music” nor “Jamaican Roots Reggae”, but rather a new sonic manifestation that crosses borders and cultural boundaries. The aural signature of the group is an elegant synthesis of the pentatonic scales typical of Ethiopian music with the characteristic drum and bass heavy sounds of reggae dub rounded out by jazzy free-form lines of the brass section filling the spaces. Electric guitars with sounds characteristic of funk and soul music are augmented by the traditional Ethiopian instruments and African drums. The lyrics of the songs talk about the longing and nostalgia for the forgotten and beloved land.
The band is about to release its second album entirely dedicated to this innovative union of Ethiopian music and Reggae. The album (which is slated to be released early in 2014) features songs in three different Ethiopian languages: Amharic, Tigrinya and Gurage.
Even before the release of the new album, the ‘Anbessa Dub’ project has aroused attention around the world. The album will be launched in the spring of 2014 with a release show in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. The album features collaboration with Mahmoud Ahmed, one of the biggest living Ethiopian artists.
In the summer the band will be performing in the USA (including the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival), and at the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, Jamaica (the biggest festival in Jamaica).
The lead singer of the band, Gili Yalo, was born in the Gondar region of Ethiopia in 1979. In 1984 Gili’s family began an arduous journey on foot towards the land of Israel. After staying in a refugee camp in Sudan for several months, the family finally immigrated to Israel. Gili was raised in Safed and Ramla. “My mother says that during the journey from Ethiopia to Israel, while sitting on my father’s shoulders, I was singing songs in Amharic. That was the time when my mother felt that I was destined to become a singer, and I haven’t stopped singing ever since”. In his youth, Gili sang with ‘Pirkhey Yerushalaim’ band, and has sang in several bands since then, mainly in English. Gili has been a member of Zvuloon Dub System since 2010. Via collaboration with the other members of the band, Gili has been exposed once again to the Amharic music he heard in his childhood in Ethiopia, bringing him full-circle to his roots, culture and mother tongue.
Zvuloon Dub System is an 8 piece band consisting of the cream of Israeli underground musicians.
Adopting their name from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the band was formed in 2006 by the Smilan brothers.
They share the same deep passion for roots reggae and dub along with influences from a variety of music styles-- Ethiopian jazz and rare grooves from the 70’s, the soul, funk and jazz from the US, as well as Israeli oriental music. In creative solidarity with some of the pivotal producers of reggae such as Lee Perry and King Tubby, the band is keen on creating not just their own music but their own sound. All their tracks are produced, recorded and mixed in the band's analog studio, representing a continuation of a rich cultural heritage. Their debut album “Freedom Time” released on April 2012 on vinyl, CD, and digital format by the band's independent label, Med.Tone Records.