Gigi - Illuminated Audio

Gigi

Illuminated Audio

Release date: May 17, 2019
Label: Time Capsule
Ejigayehu Shibabaw was born in 1974 in Chagni, northwestern Ethiopia and by pursuing a career as a singer, went against her father's strict, traditional gender roles. As Gigi, she embraced the same musical freedom she had strived for in her personal life, incorporating the Ethiopian church, funk, hip-hop, West and South African music into her work. She first settled in Nairobi, then Addis Ababa, where she quickly established herself as one of the city's leading singers. A move to San Francisco in 1998 led to a long and fruitful creative partnership with bassist and producer Bill Laswell. Around the same time, Chris Blackwell had stepped away from Island Records to start the art house film company and label Palm Pictures. He took an interest in Gigi and together with Laswell, pulled together an all-star cast of musicians for her self-titled US debut album, including Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders and Wayne Shorter. It won interna- tional critical acclaim, not just for it's musicianship but for making Gigi a "defining voice for the Ethiopian expatriate community", as journalist Tyran Grillo praises in his Time Capsule liner notes. From the nation-defining 1896 victory over Italian invaders to the quiet revolutionaries who wear simple shemma garments, Grillo believes the themes in Gigi make it "a shower of sunlight on her homeland for those ignorant of it's struggles." After it's success, Blackwell encouraged them to go back into the studio to rethink the album and Illuminated Audio was born. "Anyone can make a voice sound worldly", Grillo remarks, "but rare are those who can make one sound inner-worldly." Gigi was clear with Laswell to give her vocals a minor role "because it's already been done." Instead her Amharic verse is fleeting, exhaling through the textures like ghostly fragments, soaring yet muted. Yet the album is still titled under her name, an assertion by Laswell of her central role in the album's creation. Not only was it a fully endorsed project by Gigi, but she would be present throughout it's development, giving feedback on half-finished ideas as Laswell played them back in the Orange Music studio in New Jersey. "It works perfectly", she reflected after the album's release. "We wanted to capture the whole spirit of each track, and Bill's remixes create a different music language that really puts you in a pleasant place". This new vocabulary takes it's lead from a technical approach that Laswell had been perfecting during a furtive creative period at the turn of the millennium. Much like his ambient interpretations of Miles Davis (Panthalassa, 1998), Bob Marley (Dreams of Freedom, 1997), and Carlos Santana (Divine Light, 2001), Laswell approached Illumi- nated Audio by returning to the original multi track masters. Gigi wasn't just reworked, but recomposed into an expansive lattice of instruments, submerged in a watery ambience of dub and trance undercurrents.

Tracklist:
  • 1. Abay
  • 2. Tew Ante Sew
  • 3. Mengedegna
  • 4. Kahn
  • 5. Sew Argen
  • 6. Nafeken
  • 7. Abet Wubet
  • 8. Guramayle
  • 9. Gud Fella
  • 10. Guramayle (Slight Return)
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17 May 2019 / More records