Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Dub Colossus
Album: Dub Me Tender Vol 1+2 on Real World
artist photo © Abate Damte
The mighty collective that is Dub Colossus are no strangers to the Songlines Music Awards, having been nominated last year. This time it's finally their turn in the spotlight, with a well-deserved win for the powerful grooves of their latest release. Nick Page is the man who put Dub Colossus together. A former member of Transglobal Underground, he first travelled to Addis Ababa in 2006 to collaborate with Ethiopian musicians, and immersed himself in traditional azmari styles, Ethiopian pop and jazz.
He met up with the female vocalist Tsedenia Gebremarkos, a highly successful African pop star, and Sintayehu 'Mimi' Zenebe who's been described as 'Ethiopia's Édith Piaf'. Also key to Dub Colossus' sound are the pianist Samuel Yirga, learned jazz saxophonist Feleke Hailu and the azmari folk singer Teremage Woretaw, who also plays the one-stringed mesenqo violin. Their debut album, 2008's A Town Called Addis, mixed their many Ethiopian influences with heady dub bass and beats, while its follow-up, Addis Through the Looking Glass, refined their sound.
Dub Me Tender Vol 1+2, as the name suggests,heard Page giving his passion for dub free rein, re-imagining Dub Colossus' finest moments with help from singer Mykaell Riley of the legendary 70s group Steel Pulse. Their storming concerts last year, where they performed these versions live, attest to how well the album worked, with their traditional Ethiopian roots enriched by the authentic reggae of Riley's vocals and the sublime Horns of Negus brass section.