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Ethiopian artist Sosena Gebre Eyesus sings accompanied by her playing of the Begena, or King David’s Harp, one of the world’s oldest and most beguiling instruments. Since ancient times the Harp of David has been used as an aural balm, a soother of evil and disturbed spirits —it’s low, buzzing tones widely noted for their ability to sweetly refresh one’s soul. Said to have been brought to Ethiopia in biblical times by Menelik I, it has long been the central instrument used to accompany Ethiopian Orthodox hymns, which Eyesus plays here in an absolutely entrancing manner while softly singing songs of devotional reflection. Featuring six beautiful hymns that gently unspool at the measured pace of a lullaby, Sosena Gebre Eyesus magically creates a rarefied atmosphere that feels absolutely necessary and vital for these most turbulent of days.
Originally released on cassette, this is a limited edition lp of 500 copies.
Also available as a digital download: https://littleaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/sosena-gebre-eyesus
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Esther Suarez, also known as La Ocrasina De Oro, is a popular Peruvian Huayno singer. La Bolognesina is one of her earlier albums, featuring reverbed vocals over Andean harps supplemented with light percussion and handclaps. The album was recorded in 1981, with the title referring to her roots near the snow-capped Andean mountains of the Bolognesi province in the Ancash region of Peru. Peru experienced waves of mass rural-to-urban migration in the latter half of the twentieth century due to poverty and political instability, but with it also came an explosion in the popularity of the folkloric Huayno tradition. An urban and modernized studio version of ancient indigenous Quechua folk traditions, Huayno became the soundtrack to the migrant’s experience of both hardship and homesickness. Esther Suarez’s clear and yearning vocals soar over galloping huayno rhythms, evoking the highlands of her youth with heartbreak, regret and melancholy, while simultaneously looking to a place where there is always a will to live and an invitation to dance. Truly some of the most beautiful music ever.
Digital copies can be purchased here:littleaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/esther-suarez-la-bolognesina