06-04-2024 Music 69

Esy Tadesse - Ahadu

Esy Tadesse - Ahadu

Guitarist and composer Etsegenet Mekonnen's practice embodies a passion for the epic scope of Ethiopian music: its scales, rhythms, history, and most of all its mercurial, corporeal, enigmatic living spirit. A decade and a half into her musical career, the Los Angeles-based, Addis Ababa-born artist has begun her next chapter by unveiling a new identity: Esy Tadesse. Marking this occasion is her debut release for FPE Records, the golden-toned, intimate EP Ahadu.

Everything about Ahadu suggests a turn towards solitude and contemplation. Exquisite guitar melodies emerge from Tadesse's fingertips like delicate flowers discovered on an early morning hike; flute, organ and Esy's silken vocals flow through the relaxed soundscape like a gentle breeze across a meadow. "Ahadu" sets the tone, its synth and guitar lines twining up like vines adorning a gilded frame; "Egzio" melts into focus with a melody of infinite longing; krar comes to the surface in "Ere Manew", its bubbly, rough-hewn voice the axis around which everything revolves. 

Ahadu was produced by Grammy-winning producer Kibrom Birhane, whose own work as a musician explores the fusion of traditional Ethiopian music with Western jazz. His expertise with tonality and timbre are the soil and water nurturing Esy's magical garden. Their collaboration on these pieces feels essential, almost spiritual, a shared work to uncover hidden truths in musical form. Structured as a journey through Ethiopian musical scales, or qignits, the ten pieces comprising the EP feel like pictures at an exhibition, to be experienced together or separately, at a steady pace, to spur reflection and to be revisited in new lights and contexts.

Ahadu will be available in digital format from FPE Records May 31, 2024.


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