In a way Ethiopiques Volume 9 is more exciting than the one I reviewed last week (Vol. 8) because whereas that one was a prime sampler of artists, this volume centers its attention on one, Alèmayèhu Eshèté who recorded between '69 and '74.
One word could simply describe this disc: intense. This disc reminds me of what could happen if Tom Waits produced a soul artist from outer space. There's an otherworldly quality to the intenseness on these tracks: the piano, horn and rhythm riffs combine to propel each track exponentially. Add to this mix, the vocal acrobatics of Alèmayèhu Eshèté as he grunts and yowls like an alley cat trapped in the corner, and we're looking at some prime slabs of soul.
Where this cd wins out is in the continuity: Volume 8 was jumping all over the map, and gave me a taste, but this here is the main course. An interesting thing to do with this compilation is to take a look at the lyrics when listening to each track - an interesting viewpoint is presented, a fatalistic drama, with moralistic overtones. There are quite a few driving stompers on this collection but definitely my favorite song on this collection is Tèdèstèshal Wèy ? Track 13 with the slow groove and swaying guitars. This track sounds like a lost Sun Ra track with its unearthly horn lines and Alèmayèhu Eshèté's vocals swooping in over top.