You wait years for an Ethiopian dub band to emerge from the shadows then two come along in relatively quick succession. The best known protagonists of this distinctive style are undoubtedly the excellent London-based Dub Colossus but they are not the only contender these days as a recent addition to the genre is Israel's Zvuloon Dub System. Israel may not seem an obvious location for Ethiopian music but strong connections developed between the two countries in the mid 1980s when a large number of Ethiopian Jews migrated there during East Africa's troubled drought years. The family of Zvuloon's lead singer Gili Yalo was among these.
Before they acquired their singer in 2009 Zvuloon Dub System was a regular roots reggae outfit but following Yalo's arrival the odd song in Amharic, Ethiopia's principal language, started to find its way into the band's repertoire. The transformation is now complete and Zvuloon Dub System's current oevre is a seamless blend of 1970s Ethiopian soul and roots reggae of around the same period. So expect to hear a brass-heavy result that is reminiscent of both Marley's late Exodus period and the classic Éthiopiques series work associated with Addis-based superstars like Mahmoud Ahmed, who actually performs guest vocals here on one of the tracks, "Ney Denun Tieshe." Another track, "Endemenesh," features another renowned Ethiopian vocalist, Zemen Melesse.
For those that already know Dub Colossus's work much of this will be familiar territory. The result here is perhaps a little more slick, more down-the-line roots reggae with a little less of the elliptical rubbery rhythms that characterize the classical Ethiopian recordings. Nevertheless, Anbessa Dub is hugely enjoyable and sounds totally authentic. What we really need now is for a Jamaican klezmer band to emerge. . .