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Punt (Made In Ethiopia)

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Album Review

Reviews for Invisible System have referenced Dub Colossus, and that's understandable, since they both use Ethiopian music as a starting point. The difference is that Dan Harper, the man behind Invisible System, uses real musicians — even if they're not recorded at the same time or even on the same continent. As an aid worker in Ethiopia, he came to know Ethiopians, their music and musicians, recording them in his studio. It's what happened later that makes Punt: Made in Ethiopia so different. Home in England, he recorded other musicians — quite a crew, including the likes of Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara. But they're simply the equals of the Ethiopians, such as Destra Fikra and Mahmoud Ahmed, whose "Melkam Kehonelish" is a highlight, with his absolutely world-class voice a standout. The vision behind everything is Harper's, and the tracks cover a highly atmospheric range, with beats from Dubulah. But its heart is in the Horn of Africa, even when Captain Sensible is adding wild guitar to the closer, "Dankira." It's an album that, to its credit, solidly defies easy description — here it rocks out, there it lifts high into the air, sometimes there are jazzy touches and pieces that wouldn't sound out of place on a global dancefloor. More than that, it's a record that doesn't show all its colors at once; it needs to be heard several times to peel away the layers, and each time reveals a new delight. It's world music in the very best sense — not ethnic, but accessible, heartfelt, and a constant pleasure.

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