Out 25th January on wax, ‘Abyssinia & Abyssinia Rise’ ties together Te’Amir’s [pronounced Taah-mer] two-part EP series of beat driven, rootsy and soulful explorations inspired by his Ethiopian heritage on one album. The release is imprinted with his research into the Ethiopian Golden Era, Éthiopiques, traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean music, and offers a beatific interpretation that takes the listener on a journey through the soundscapes of the Abyssinian Empire.
A drummer in the L.A. music scene, Te’Amir is heavily involved in the city’s hip-hop, jazz andsoul scenes, having spent the last ten years touring and recording with Aloe Blacc as well as playing alongside artists such as Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar. Released in July, his first solo project “Abyssinia EP” demonstrated his extensive experience as a live drummer and gained the acclaim of Aaron Byrd (KCRW), Gideon Coe (BBC 6 Music),Don Letts (BBC 6 Music)and Tom Ravenscroft (BBC 6 Music), who had Te’Amir in for a guest mix. The EP’s lead track“Habesha” was featured on Okayplayer’s ‘Mixtape Monday’, and the mesmerising “The Quest feat. Dustin Warren” was premiered by Clash; the full EP received reviews from DJ Mag (7.5/10)and Exclaim Music (8/10) along with a track-by-track guide feature in Revive Music and coverage (including an interview with Te’Amir) on Bandcamp Weekly. His second EP ‘Abyssinia Rise’ followed in October with a more electronic feel, and brought sonic beats that pushed the next instalment into an ethereal realm brimming with fresh and exciting sounds. Awarding the tracks top accolades, L.A. Record and Stamp The Wax premiered “Blue Nile” and “Salam” respectively, which added to MusiK Please and OkayAfrica reviews and Bandcamp New & Notable feature for the EP.
Across the project, Te’Amir explores and celebrates his connection to Ethiopia and its people, he explains: “My father is from Ethiopia. He would play me recordings of traditional music and hits from the Golden Era when I was a kid. I rediscovered some of his old tapes and records and began dissecting them. They were my connection to Ethiopia”.
Kicking things off, “Habesha” is dedicated to the Habesha people and inspired by their strength and history. On the track, Te’Amir distorts piano notes to replicate the sound of old Ethiopianrecords whilst a minor pentatonic bassline plays underfoot. Next up, “The Quest” is opened by the celestial jazz vocals of Dustin Warren, and brilliant snatches of cosmic harp glissandos from Rebekah Raff (who played harp on Flying Lotus’ ‘Cosmogramma’) meld with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s moody violin and viola lines and the guitar of regular collaborator Mike McTaggart.
Dustin Warren’s silken vocals return in “All That You Need” and gracefully transition the track from a golden-voiced love ballad into an operatic drama. The triumphant horns from Te’Amir’s brother Tutu Sweeney crumble under the weight of the haunting distortion and into “Randal In Addis”, which was named after Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa and the saxophonist Randal Fisher (Ethio Cali), who brought the track to life. The shimmering keys and rich horns of “Afrika”transport you back to the ancestral home of Te’Amir and mark the close of the first part.
Opening the “Abyssinia Rise” chapter, the traditional Ethiopian arrangement in “Back To Abyssinia” blends the unknown with the nostalgic: “I really wanted to create something that had a traditional element as a focal point but transport it to space” Te’Amir explains. “Blue Nile”melds together an uplifting mix of live and electronic drums that unite in an energetic and ambient flow that carries listeners on a passage down the Nile. Next up is “Afar Hustle”, an epic up-tempo tale which relentlessly traces the hustle and bustle of working life in Abyssinia’s fields, using heavy beats recorded on a crunchy live drum loop. The record closes with “Salam”, which blends dubbed out spacey grooves and synths to recreate the fullness of dawn, highlighting the title of the release “Abyssinia Rise”. Te’Amir says of “Salam”, “It usually brings me peace. I used to listen to it in the morning, so I called it Salam, which means peace and is used as a greeting”.
Te’Amir’s practice is informed by his classical training and Afro-diasporic rhythms, along with the contemporary hip-hop and soul artists he has performed with over the last ten years. As well as playing with Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, Te’Amir has performed with Kadhja Bonet, Ethio Cali, Mark de Clive-Lowe, YG, Kamaiyah, Kelis, Sahr Ngaujah (Fela! Musical Off- Broadway), Allen Stone, Shafiq Husayn, Quantic and Tewodros Tadesse. He also attended the Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona.
2. The Quest feat. Dustin Warren
3. All That You Need feat. Dustin Warren
4. Randal In Addis
6. Back To Abyssinia
7. Blue Nile
8. Afar Hustle
You can pre-order this via https://teamirs.bandcamp.com/album/abyssinia-abyssinia-rise