Tuesday 11 October 2016, 8pm
Hailu Mergia / keyboards, accordion
Tony Buck / drums
Mike Majkowski / double bass
The great Ethiopian keyboardist and composer, Hailu Mergia returns to OTO, this time in a trio with drummer Tony Buck (The Necks) and double bassist Mike Majkowski.
Mergia's musical career has been a circuitous one. He released Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrumenton cassette in 1985 in a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth that simultaneously gave Ethiopian music a sonic makeover using electric piano, analog synth and his beloved accordion. With imagination and a visionary sense of the self-contained possibilities of modern music, he captured the popular sounds of the past using the modern tools of the day. It wasn't until the album's re-release on Awesome Tapes From Africa in 2013 however, that the album found a deserved wider audience, leading Mergia to embark on his first set of shows in over 20 years.
In 1985, master accordionist and veteran bandleader, arranger and keyboardist released the Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument cassette. In a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth, Hailu gave Ethiopian music a sonic makeover. He was already celebrated for his work with the groundbreaking Addis Ababa ethio-jazz and funk outfit Walias Band. With imagination and a visionary sense of the self-contained possibilities of modern music, he captured the popular sounds of the past using the modern tools of the day.
Hailu Mergia weaves Moog DX7 synthesizer, Rhodes electric piano and rhythm machine into the rich harmonic layering of his accordion, creating hauntingly psychedelic, elegantly arranged instrumentals. These tunes draw from famous traditional and modern Ethiopian songs, as Hailu brilliantly matches lush Amhara, Tigrinya and Oromo melodies with otherworldly flavors soaked in jazz and blues, synthesizing a futuristic landscape. He balances Ethiopian music's signature melodic shape with beautiful analog synth touches, floating upon clouds of hypnotically minimal rhythm tracks.
Tony is regarded as one of Australia's most creative and adventurous exports, with vast experience across the globe. He has been involved in a highly diverse array of projects but is probably best known around the world as a member of the trio The Necks.
Following studies and early experience in Australia he spent time in Japan, where he formed PERIL with Otomo Yoshihide and Kato Hideki before relocating to Europe in the mid-nineties.
Some of the more high profile projects he has been involved with include the band Kletka Red, and touring and recording with, among others, The EX, The Exiles, and Corchestra, and involvement with most of the international improvisation and new music community and festivals.
Mike's solo double bass work began circa 2007. He holds an active interest in developing, extending and refining technical possibilities for the double bass. he has been paying close attention to bowing techniques, in particular the tremolo technique. He is exploring the multiple layers which these techniques produce, and is investigating how these techniques, sustained over particular durations, create their own sonic atmosphere, giving form to a piece of music. form and content go hand in hand. There is a constant relationship between the action, the sound of the action itself, and the sounds that are created as a result of the action - existing independent from the action.
“Watching him play is almost a dizzying experience as his hands fly about his instrument, playing it in all kinds of unconventional ways, even introducing foreign objects to it on occasion... Majkowski needs to be seen to be believed…” – Tony Mitchell, Music Forum magazine