Trio Kazanchis +1, ethio-traditional impro-punk band kicking off their tour of East Africa on Wednesday with a performance at Alliance Ethio-Française.
MeseleAsmamaw on Kirar and vocals, JeroenVisser on keys, bass, reeds and vocals, Endris Hassen on masinqo and vocals as well as Fabien Duscombs on drums entertained a small crowd for their first performance of the year in Addis Ababa. Their music combines traditional Ethiopian music with punk rock and other western genres of music.
For this concert, two other musicians joined the band of four for a short set. As Jeroen put it during an interview, their live performance can get a little wild. He describes their music as a breaking up of rhythm and melody, a tune that goes out of scale only to return soon. Their highly improvisational method results in creating sounds that local audiences can recognize easily but could potentially be alienated by its experimental nature. One needs to be willing to go on this aural trip before the music forces them to return.
One could easily be lulled into a sense of security by the familiarity of sounds like ambassel, tizita or guragena rhythms but the occasionally violent, chaotic bursts of seemingly random noise keep the listener raptly attentive. Trio Kazanchis +1 has continuously explored the limits of traditional instruments like Masinqo and Kirar. Endris stretches the Masinqo string to produce impossibly fast psychedelic soundscape, especially combined with Jeroen’s key work, and Mesele employs methods like using a beer bottle to get the most from his Kirar.
The band also announced Sheger, their third studio album. A year in the making, Sheger was produced and recorded in France and Switzerland.
As the band puts it, Sheger is a representation of the current condition of Addis Ababa. “It’s a mental tour of the city. Addis is partially in the past and partially in the present. The distance between the two is very thin,” says Jeroen.
This in-between state is explored in the album. Sheger takes the listener on a journey through Addis Ababa. Spaces between songs are filled with random noise highly endemic to the city – workers in Mercato, café sounds at Enrico pastry shop, minibus callouts and a soccer game at Jan Meda have been integrated into the album.These sounds add an extra layer to the listeners’ experience.
The familiarity of these sounds mixed with the experimental instrumentals adds a layer of uncertainty, a feeling of discontent, almost frustration. The songs seamlessly transition between home and madness – the chaos of the city.
The band attributes the constant evolution of the band to their willingness to work together and clash when necessary. The original Trio Kazanchismembers Jeroen, Mesele and Fabian celebrate the band’s 10-year anniversary this year. Composed of an international team (Jeroen is Swiss and Fabian French) that has come to love Ethiopian music, knowledge of the country’s culture has been an important element to their productivity. Jeroen previously toured with the great GetachewMekuria as a sound engineer. Since conception, the band has performed in Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and China.
Trio Kazanchis +1 will go on to Nairobi and Zanzibar this February and return to Ethiopia for an extensive tour. Throughout the coming week, they will play various venues in Addis including Yared School of Music, Ghion’s Jazz Village and Hager Fikir Theater.