How a small D.C. record label became a hotbed of modern Ethiopian Sounds

1432R001 Yarada Lij Square Art
photo of 1432R001 A side label

Originally in the Washington Post by Chris Kelly

In its first two years, D.C.-based record label 1432 R has stood out for its ethos and its ear, but also for a more curious reason. Even though 1432 R takes its name from a District street address, its catalogue is dominated by music from more than 7,000 miles away — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Launched in summer 2014, 1432 R has released nine records, almost all featuring Addis Ababa-based producers Mikael Seifu and Endeguena Mulu; one is by Ethiopian American co-founder Dawit Eklund. Their music seamlessly brings together house music grooves, the stutter of U.K. garage, an uneasy electronic ambience, and — perhaps most notably — Ethiopian folk music.

“Ethiopian music is super distinct,” Eklund, 26, says. “There are only four or five musical scales that they play in; each has its own meaning and attitude and mood.” What has caught the attention of listeners around the world is how they are “drawing from this classical and traditional sound and coupling it with electronic sounds,” crafting music that is unique, inventive and emotionally resonant.

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