Mulatu Astatke and the Black Jesus Experience – To Know Without Knowing

Album Review | Agogo Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson

This second full-length album collaboration between the Melbourne-based Black Jesus Experience and noted Ethiopian vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, delivers a fresh and dynamic melting pot that sucessfully blends Moroccan, Zimbabwean, Moiri and Ethiopian influences with instantly rewarding results. It’s party music with a conscience. 

To Know Without Knowing is a feast of vibrant Ethio-Jazz, contemporary hip-hop and spirited funky grooves, which takes as its starting point, the sound that Mulatu pioneered in the late 1960s.  From the album’s lead single “Kulun Mankwaleshi”, an arrangement of an Ethiopean wedding song, which utilises the Ethiopian anchi-hoye scale, to the sprawling ten minute “Living in a Stolen Land”, which features the sultry voice of Vida Sunshyne, the musicians seem to have an almost telepathic understanding, which comes across loud and clear through the nine selections.

Choice Track: Lijay (NSV 507)