Tel Aviv-based band Zvuloon Dub System connects the dots between Israel, Ethiopia and Jamaica on their brand new album Anbessa Dub.
This ten track effort is not a dub album as the title suggests. It collects funky instrumentals and soulful vocal cuts sung in Amharic by singer Gili Yalo, who was born and raised in Ethiopia.
Zvuloon Dub System started in 2006 and mainly focused on 70s styled roots reggae. Three years later Gili Yalo joined and they started to experiment with Ethiopian instruments and chord changes. And the result is the extraordinary Anbessa Dub, an album that merges Israel with Africa and the Caribbean.
Anbessa Dub was recorded using analogue equipment and recording techniques. It is warm, natural and organic with excellent musicianship throughout the set, especially the organ maestro who owns album opener Alemitu with his smooth playing.
This is certainly a unique mix of styles with an atmosphere influenced by the gritty and raw sounds of 70s Kingston and a sweaty and funky club in 70s Addis Abeba.
In May last year I received the debut album from a band called Zvuloon Dub System. I didn’t pay much attention to the release at the time, but a few days ago I decided to give it a spin since I received their latest 12” with Cornell Campbell. And I’m glad I gave it that spin. Because Freedom time is a certified show-stopper.
Zvuloon Dub System is an eight piece band from Israel. They’re competent musicians and the rootsy and creeping riddims are tight and well-played. The secret ingredient, and the album’s main strength, is however the excellent horn section that is given plenty of space throughout the eleven tracks (ten on the LP version).
All but one – a cover version of Jimi Hendrix’ Voodoo Chile – are originals with a sound reminiscent of downtown Kingston in the mid 70’s. Sometimes it’s bright and uplifting, as Tell Me Tell, and sometimes it’s dark and introspective, as in Go Down Moses. But there are also strokes of soul and jazz in the breezy African Drums and several of the songs floats into a dub version.
It’s truly a blessing to discover great new acts and dynamite albums, especially when they are as solid as Zvulooon Dub System and Freedom Time.