Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Uncut Review + more this month + BBC6 airplay

October 2009

Uncut Magazine– Nigel Williamson
New rave goes global….
Taking ethnic music recorded in Addis Ababa and layering it with western psych/trance/techno/dance vibes is a risky enterprise-but having spent almost a decade as an aid worker in Africa Dan Harper is better placed than most to try. To the thrilling voices of Ethiopian main star Mahmoud Ahmed and others, he’s added Transglobal Underground/Ozric Tentacles-style synths, Cpt Sensible’s dubby bass, Just Adams’best Steve Hillage imitation and Mali’s Juldeh Camara sawing away on his eerie one-string fiddle. At times it all sounds a little too frenetic, but the rave crowd may love such deranged energy.

Rock N Reel / R2 Magazine - October 2009
Having spent several years in Africa as an aid worker, musician and producer Dan Harper (aka Invisible System), was uniquely qualified when it came to the creation of this wonderfully strange and slightly otherworldly album. Punt is a remarkable musical melting pot that crosses continents, cultures and musical genres and in doing so gives birth to something that, with its blend of Ethiopian music, dub, trance, pop, electronica, rock and psychedelia refuses resolutely to be pigeon holed. Created with the assistance of an eclectic collection of musicians from bands as diverse as Ozric Tentacles, Robert Plant, Zion Train, Loop Guru, Baka Beyond, The Mission, Transglobal Underground and Baaba Maal, Punt is truly innovative. Recorded at Harper’s mobile Worm Hole Studio in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia it features some of that country’s finest including legendary singer Mahmoud Ahmed together with pianist Samuel Yirga Miyiku, saxophonist Feleke Hailu Woldemariam and singers Tsedenia Gebremarkos Woldesilassie and Sintayehu Zenebe who last year collaborated with Harper on Count Dubullah’s Dub Colossus project, A Town Called Addis. One of the most startlingly original musical adventures of the year Punt seamlessly knits together these diverse threads and in doing so gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘fusion music’.
Dave Haslam

Itunes Review - 4 stars

Review by Chris Nickson
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.

Invisible System has also recently been played by Gideon Coe on BBC6 Music alongside Madness and Blamanche etc which really cheered me up as I have never really seen it as 'world music' - not that I really understand that term anyway as we all live in the world and play music... But my love of other forms of music, and wish of people who listen to club, dub and rock music to explore world music and vice versa comes over in this album and my nature so BBC6 airplay is great! Thanks Gideon...

The Telegraph today (Sat 5th Sept)
'Self-financed by a former aid worker, this Ethiopian dub project follows the "Africa Express" format, teaming Addis Ababa icons - notably the great crooner Mahmoud Ahmed - with indie micro-celebrities, Captain Sensible being the best known. The DIY feel of the arrangements suits the brooding other-wroldliness of the Ethiopian vocals far better than many more expensive productions.'
Mark Hudson

MOJO (this month)
Dan Harper, who facilitated last year's Town Called Addis project, here encourages Ethiopia's musicians to push the envelope beyond the nostalgia of the Ethiopiques series. There's a darkness in some of the deeper explorations of electronica and dance, yet the African musicians seize their chance with enthusiasm. You can imagine this becoming a mindblowing rave classic.

New Internationalist
Brings together a fine mix of musicians - Justin Adams, Dubulah, Juldeh Camara and members of the Ethiopiques - and some surprising ones (Captain Sensible?) to create a festive-sounding album recorded in Ethiopia

Max Bankole Jarrett
Former DJ/Presenter and Producer of the Jive Zone weekly music show on the BBC World Service for Africa (1992-1998) + Focus on Africa Producer, now working in Ethiopia

Alan Watts once said (about religion): "If you try to capture running water in a bucket it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed. To have running water you must let go of it and let it run". In my view, the same is true of music and this album. I encourage everyone to check it out, but not try to capture it..just feel it. Also, be aware that just as there is the right time and place for different experiences, the same is true of music. Example: just because I don't listen to my Miles Davis "In a Silent Way" cd as soon as I wake up or when I am working out in the gym that doesn't make it a difficult or too complex album. It just is not meant to be married with those experiences. The same is true with Punt. You have to approach it correctly. And once you do, you will be blown away. As I recently told Dan, the perfect time to hear "Punt" , here in Addis Ababa where I live, is at that special time of the day when dusk turns to night, preferably in a car with a pumping soundsystem.