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Ethiopian Records Shares Genre-Bending EP 'In My Sleep'

Addis Adaba-based producer Endeguena Mulu aka Ethiopian Records releases his booming new experimental EP "In My Sleep".


Ethiopian Records – the production moniker of Addis Ababa-based musician  Endeguena Mulu – releases his latest EP In My Sleep, a seamless blend of traditional Ethiopian folk music and elements of jazz, electronic sounds and UK garage. In My Sleep is the first of a two-part project that the visionary beatmaker will release this year. The EP, which has been a decade in the making, sees the artists showcasing his intricate production skills as he artfully mixes booming percussion with staticky strings and vocal samples.

E.R. is one of the architects of the 'Ethiopiyawi' electronic genre, but he's careful not to limit his sound by overwhelming it with labels; he penned a personal statement where he urged listeners to look past labels when seeking out new music, "forget about all the labels even if you found the music you are listening to through passing by in this or that section in the music store. Just forget about where you found it. Close your eyes and absorb yourself in the moment. Listen, truly listen, and try to feel what the music is doing to you. If you are able to do that then maybe, maybe you are able to release the taint of those narrow labels and connect with the work with the piece of music, like you should." Stream In My Sleep below, and be on the look-out for the second half of his project to drop in October.

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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