I have been listening to this all week. Now I am walking out under the starry skies that silently glisten above my head.Out here there is time to breathe and reflect.
Of Abyssinia is a truly remarkable creation. Referencing the likes of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pentangle, Tim Buckley and Alice Coltrane, we find that Jim Ghedi and Neal Hepplestone’s vision flies far beyond South Yorkshire’s Northern sky and allows the listener to open the mind and embark on almost a spiritual pilgrimage.
‘Nubian Grove’ opens at seven minutes long. A tune that smells like sandalwood incense and tastes like a fresh fruit salad. A hymn to love and hope ‘Grove’ is a beautifully constructed song full of mystical yearning. ‘Love Eternity’ is a journey beginning with a lovely groove and resting in an acoustic guitar interlude. The sampled voice of Ornette Coleman is interrupted by a joyful African vibe. A tremendous piece of work.
‘Africa’s Lament’ finds us roaming in John Martyn/Danny Thompson territory but this is only a far off reference point for a fine slice of soulful wizardry. There is nothing borrowed from the past here. Guitar and bass flow like a mountain stream bubbling down into the valley below.
A bottleneck blues riff opens ‘Serve the Wind’ A ripping delta blues that is groovy and grinding. Robert Johnson rises from the grave thumbs a lift to the crossroads and dances a joyful resurrection shuffle with Charlie Patton.”One day I will be Free” howls Ghedi. Me too.
‘Afar’ is the final stage of the journey and leads into a meditative state. Tender and melancholic. So much it’s time to make a mint tea and press repeat.
This is a landmark recording. Full marks to ‘The Little Mesters’ Recording Confederacy and to all the musicians who helped create this astounding work and congratulations to Jim Ghedi and Neal Hepplestone for having the vision and artistic bravery to construct Of Abyssinia.
Words: Keefy How