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Illuminated Audio

Gigi

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Album Review

The original release of Gigi's self-titled record on Palm represented a mix of restraint and brashness on the part of producer Bill Laswell. On one hand, Laswell brought in countless all-stars, such as fusion legends (and longtime collaborators) Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter — bold additions to Ethiopian pop music, to be sure. On the other hand, he also resisted the urge to create his usual loopy soundscapes, opting instead to have all of the musicians play their parts live. With Illuminated Audio, Laswell remixes Gigi in his more usual voice — a "reconstruction and mix translation." For better or worse, the results are heartily disconnected from the original and sound like pure Laswell: a swirling, ethereal ambient blend of voices, instrumental and literal. It is pleasant music, to be sure, though seems more like simply a new entry in Laswell's ongoing remix project than a wholly original work.

Biography

Born: 1974 in Ethiopia

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Ejigayehu Shibabaw, better known as Gigi, is one of the few singers from the Horn of Africa — the first since countrywoman Aster Aweke, in fact — to break through with a major-label release. Gigi grew up in rural Ethiopia, listening to traditional and church music, before moving to the capital, Addis Ababa, when she was 14. There, her musical horizons broadened, hearing the local pop music "and all kinds of American music we could get on the radio. After that I went to Kenya, and there...
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Illuminated Audio, Gigi
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