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Admas – Sons of Ethiopia

Sons of Ethiopia – uber rare 1984 Ethiopian synth treasure by Admas – reissued by Frederiksberg Records, and its story told.

“It still sounds like nothing else. Summoning traditional Ethiopian melodies from the newest instruments within reach (synthesizers, drum machines, electric guitars), Admas specialized in paradox, generating exquisite new grooves that felt high-tech and low-budget, worldly and local, futuristic and nostalgic, funky and delicate.” – Washington Post.

We are helping our friends at Frederiksberg Records in helping spread the word and music of Admas’ Sons of Ethiopia, the privately pressed (in America!) album from 1984. Fully licensed from Admas, released with their support, the album includes restored sound and art. The extensively researched booklet features unseen photographs and interviews with the band by Francis Gooding.

Sons of Ethiopia is a mostly instrumental album, rich with global influences. It is one of the few recordings to be produced outside Ethiopia in the early 1980s. It is a key document of the Washington DC exile scene. The core members of Admas – Tewodros ‘Teddy’ Aklilu, Henock Temesgen, and Abegasu Shiota – had previously played in a group called Gasha, one of the few local Ethiopian bands. Admas was born from Gasha, as an outlet for their more experimental instincts.

Emerging from the community of Ethiopian exiles who fled the brutality of the Derg – the military dictatorship that had deposed Haile Selassie – the album was the sound of a new generation. The members of Admas were not musicians from the ‘golden age’: they were children of the terror of the Derg time. Their music formed during an era of state-sponsored neighbourhood bands and a propaganda-tinged traditional music scene, where the weekends were sound-tracked by the remaining hotel groups of a bygone Imperial world.

Mulatu, Girma Beyene and their peers in 1960s Addis Ababa had created an Ethiopian pop sound by using rhythms from Latin music, soul and jazz. Admas threw their net wider still, adding highlife, electro, go-go, samba, and roots reggae to the mix.

Sons of Ethiopia is the fresh sound of youth, freedom and imagination, which the band made for themselves and by themselves, owning every part of the process. But it is also a music of exile. Admas performed week in, week out, for crowds of fellow Ethiopians, many of whom had lost family and friends to the Derg. Sons of Ethiopia channels this loss, longing and hope. It is at once imbued with the melancholy and nostalgia so typical of Ethiopian tizetas and also a joyful synthesis.

Expected to ship mid-August