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Ethiopian Electronic Producer Mikael Seifu Has A New EP On The Way And We Couldn’t Be More Stoked

Hear the powerful first track off Mikael Seifu's upcoming 'Zelalem' EP, out March 4 on RVNG Intl.

Photo: Mulugeta Teklemariam. Source: Facebook.


Addis Ababa-based producer Mikael Seifu is the mastermind behind a sound he's termed Ethiopiyawi Electronic–a fusion of traditional Ethiopian folk instruments and Burial-style UK garage and house production that first caught our attention in 2014.

After putting out The Lost Drum Beat via the Washington, D.C. imprint 1432 R last year, Seifu will return this March with a five-track EP by way of the Brooklyn-based RVNG Intl. According to RVNG, Zelalem (which translates to “eternity” in Amharic) is an “ode to – and a fearless break from – the storied lineage of Ethiopian music.”

The label adds:

Mikael’s music does not westernize or electronicize extant Ethiopian music. Instead, Seifu uses Ethio-Jazz’s spirit of brewing estranged styles for his own musical tincturing. Seifu’s passion above all else is to create something befitting of its time, yet “eternally Ethiopian.” The latter phrase was the mantra guiding Seifu through the creation of Zelalem, and a source of inspiration for the cover artwork.

Zelalem spotlights the music of Ethiopia’s past as well its future. Mikael Seifu illustrates the potential for reinterpreting sacred and proud sources through energized palettes. His latest effort heralds the future of this new music and signals the genesis of Ethiopian Electronic, where the known and unknown commune.

Along with news of the EP yesterday, RVNG has shared the first of Seifu’s Zelalem tracks, the gorgeous “How To Save A Life (Vector of Eternity).” Listen below.

Check out the full track-listing here. Zelalem is due out March 4 on vinyl and digital formats. Accompanying the release is a fifty-minute cassette mix by Seifu compiling native Ethiopian and African folk music. Head to RVNG Intl. to pick up a pre-order.

Zelalem EP:

01 The Protectors

02 The Solipsist

03 Soul Manifest

04 How To Save a Life (Vector of Eternity)

05 ዘላለም (Vector of Light)

Audio
Photo: Felipe Maia.

Making Music Between the Cracks In Senegal

Navigating mbalax, hip-hop, and afropop, Senegalese artists are sticking together to make their music heard.

Taking a stroll in Dakar is an overwhelming sonic experience. One of the busiest metropolises of West Africa, Senegal's capital is flooded by taxis with lousy tailpipes and drivers who are keen to honk every now and then while cruising long avenues by the seaside. All over the city, several minarets' speaker boxes remind the prayer times throughout the day, adding chants to daily people's chats in different languages and dialects.

At first, it may not seem too different from other big cities in Africa, but one kind of music sets a unique dakarois tone. Whether in a clothing store, having a thieboudienne for lunch or taking a cab, one's ears will be caught by mbalax music.

A new generation of artists wants to bring different sounds to the main stage of the Senegalese arts. They are the likes of the electro-fueled trio Guiss Guiss Bou Bess, the big afrobeat-ish band Sahad & The Nataal Patchwork and the experimentalist sound-maker Ibaaku. He's one of the founders of Kandang, a newly-born platform that aspires to build up a healthy environment that could develop the work of Senegalese musicians through concerts, workshops and promotion.

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